Global revenues from exports of French wine and spirits fell 0.4% to Euro7.4 billion last year, as the country suffered from a post-millennium slump in sales of Champagne and other sparkling wines.

However, a more damaging slump was avoided by improved performances in both the Cognac and liqueur categories.

Apart from growing competition from New World producers, such as Australia and Chile, French producers were concerned over revenues in 2001, with monetary parities having been favourable to the Euro in 2000.

Exports to the US showed the strongest growth, up 11%. But the UK, French wines biggest market by value, saw sales fall 15%. France is likely to lose its position as the number one importer of wine into the UK to Australia in the next 12 months.

While overall Cognac sales grew 15% to Euro1.27 billion and total spirits sales were lifted 15% to Euro1.99 billion, revenues from Champagne fell 15% to Euro1.56 billion. Total wine revenues fell 5% to Euro 5.4 billion.