US champagne sales start to sparkle again

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Indy Lifestyle Online

US champagne sales are bubbling, with strong gains in the first two months of the year, according to the trade group for the producers.

The US Champagne Bureau, part of the French-based CIVC trade group, said January 2010 shipments rose 22.5 percent and February's surged 95 percent year-over-year.

"Almost two million bottles were shipped to the US in the first two months of this year," said the trade group's communications director Daniel Lorson on Friday.

"This is encouraging. These are dramatic increases, especially compared to last year where we felt the full impact of the financial crisis."

While champagne sales are just one sign of economic health, shipments to the US fell 27 percent last year and nine percent worldwide, according to the group.

The US remains a top market for bubbly, but consumption by Americans is one-ninth of that in France, the Champagne Bureau said.

The trade continues to press for a US law that would limit the use of the name champagne to wines grown in the designated region of northeast France.

French producers have introduced a lighter bottle for the drink, which Lorson said cuts about two ounces (55 grams) and reduces the carbon footprint for bottlers.

This will reduce carbon output by 2,000 metric tonnes annual, "equivalent to the annual emissions of 4,000 cars," he said.

The new bottle should arrive in the US for 2011 and 2012 vintages, the group said.

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