Sales of Champagne are expected to drop by up to 15% in volume for 2009, the trade body for the Champagne region has told just-drinks.

Recession in key export markets has flattened consumer demand for Champagne in 2009 and is likely to lead to a drop in sales of between 10% and 15% for the year, according to the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC).

Exports are believed to have plummeted by almost a third, but French consumers have helped to offset sliding demand abroad by continuing to drink the iconic bubbly.

It is thought year-on-year sales in France are down by only 3%, the CIVC's Daniel Lorson told just-drinks today (16 November).

"We are not pessimistic about the future," said Lorson, ahead of the Christmas period - the key season for Champagne sales.

"At the end of 2009 we will say it has been a difficult year, but we are relatively optimistic. We think the worst is behind us," he said.