Yves Bénard is to become the first Frenchman to lead the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) for more than 40 years.

Members of the OIV have elected Bénard as president of the Paris-based group, which sets international standards on winemaking practices, as well as tracking production and consumption.

Elected for a three-year term, he is the first Frenchman to head the OIV since Baron Pierre Le Roy stood down in 1962. He replaces Australian Peter Hayes.

Bénard, a French wine industry heavyweight, has previously represented Champagne houses on the Champagne trade body, CIVC.

In August 2007, he was appointed head of France's national appellation body, INAO, where he has spearheaded plans to simplify the Appellation Controlee system - often in the face of significant opposition.

He is also a graduate in Agricultural Sciences and in Oenology from Montpellier, southern France.

Upon his election, Bénard said he would "work on means to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to scientific and regulatory debates, particularly on current events such as climate change, sustainable development and biotechnologies".

He added that the OIV has a vital role to play "on education of the public on moderate consumption".

French winemakers have often been at odds with OIV over production rules. Many French appellation producers criticised the OIV when it sanctioned the use of wood chips to add flavour and aroma to wine.