Latest forecasts for France's wine output this year are higher than earlier predictions. The national wine agency Onivins said earlier this month that output this year is expected to reach 58.5m hectolitres. The agency had previously forecast a wine output of 57.9m hectolitres, while in August, France's Ministry of Agriculture foresaw 57m hectolitres.

Overall wine production in France in 2004 is expected to be up on last year by more than 20%.

The output of wines with appellation of controlled origin is forecast at 25.7m hectolitres, while production of wines labelled "vins de pays" and other wines is seen at 23.4m hectolitres, Onivins said.

The produce of wines for making cognac and armagnac is expected to reach 9.4m hectolitres.