Champagne shipments to the US last year rose by 4% in 2003, according to figures released yesterday. The Office of Champagne, USA announced that the US imported 18,957,031 bottles of Champagne in 2003, compared to 18,227,280 bottles imported in 2002.

In a statement, director of the Office of Champagne Tommy Bruce said: "This banner year continues the strong growth of 2002. These figures confirm that US wine drinkers continue to choose high-quality wines that are true to their place of origin. In short, location matters."

Worldwide, Champagne shipments totaled 293,308,769 bottles, an increase of almost 2%. The US remained the second largest importer of Champagne behind the UK.

The Office of Champagne, USA, is the US representative of the Comite Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne, which represents the grape growers and houses of Champagne, France.