China provided the major bright spot in a grim year for Bordeaux wine exports in 2009, according to trade body the Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin du Bordreaux (CIVB).

Exports to China increased by 40% in value on the previous year to EUR74m (US$101.6m), while volumes doubled to 137,000 hectolitres.

This is in stark contrast to what CIVB president Alain Vironneau called “a catastrophic year” for Bordeaux in general.

Global exports fell 14% in volume to 4.96mhl (661m bottles) and by 23% in value to EUR3.37bn.

The underlying decline in value exports in 2009 is more marked due to one-off gains in 2008 from sales of prestigious 2005 vintage wines.    

Vironneau said there has been “slight improvement” in export sales over the past three months, “even though this does not compensate for our losses - far from it”.

Another positive is the 2009 vintage, which experts have described as exceptional.