The French wine industry's troubles are unlikely to be helped by this year's harvest as preliminary figures predict a bumper crop, placing more pressure on winemakers who are still struggling to sell all of last year's wine.

Figures from the national wine body Onivins suggest that France will record a harvest between 54 and 55m hectolitres. The figure is only slightly down on last year's record vintage of 58m hl.

France's wine industry is under great pressure from falling domestic sales and the growth of the New World wine industry on France's traditional export markets.

At this year's Vinexpo wine show Philippe Maugin, director of France's Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO) called for reform of the AOC system. He said: "What worked fifty years ago is no longer adequate. The crisis has pushed the profession from debate to action."

The French wine and spirit industry saw exports decline 3.1% in 2004, to €7.57 billion (US$9.83 billion). Particularly badly hit were exports of wine from Bordeaux, which fell 22.3%. Cotes du Rhone sales were also down by 14.5%.

Total French still wine exports fell 9.2%