The world's wine market should brace itself for a "new French revolution", according to members of the country's strategic planning group for the wine industry, Groupe Stratégique.

Leaders of the group, made up of six members drawn from the French wine industry and the Ministry of Agriculture, announced at last week's Wine evolution 2002 conference, that France had now "awakened" to the threat of the New World and "realised the competition it had".

The strategic group, which is consulting over 150 experts connected with the wine industry has been commissioned with developing a plan to combat France's declining position in the world market.

Jean-Louis Piton, one of the group's members, told the conference that the group was about the "recreation of the wine industry in France".
He said: "France has been shocked by what has happened in the industry."

"What needs to be changed are the aristocratic ideas of the French wine sector," Piton said. "This needs to disappear and the French wine industry needs to listen to markets."

Of the discussions Piton said: "There are no taboo subjects; everyone has been told to leave their coats at the door; there are the most (politically) dangerous subjects that will be brought up; all new ideas are welcome."

The results of the discussions will be released to Jean Glavany, France's agriculture minister, by March.

The strategic group is being overseen by Jacques Berthomeau, the government figure who declared in a report late last year that, "the Barbarians are at the gates," when describing the threat of the New World to France's position. He said that France needed to adopt more modern wine practices, such as those used by the likes of Australia, the US and South Africa.