Exports of French wines dropped by almost 10% in volume in the first eight months of the year, according to industry body, the Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiritueux (FEVS).

If Champagne is excluded from the figures, exports were down 11% by volume, said FEVS today (22 October).

It said the fall reflects the economic slowdown worldwide, which has been in evidence since the start of the year, and also the strong euro in relation to other major currencies.

FEVS warned last week that 2009 would be "difficult" for the industry.

France's global wine exports increased by 7% in value terms over the period to EUR4.2bn (US$5.4m). However, the FEVS said that this was largely due to the rising prices of Grands Crus 2005 this year (hikes ranging from 10 % to 100 %).

Spirits exports decreased 2% in volume and 5.8% in value. The traditional star performer, Cognac, was down 7.6% in volume and 4.4% in value.

Global wine and spirits exports combined totalled EUR5.8bn (US$ 7.46m), up 3.1%.