Maison Sichel is taking its first steps into sports sponsorship with a deal to supply the official red wine at next month's World Cup Finals in South Korea.

The Bordeaux-based producer and shipper will supply a specially blended AOC Médoc to all the stadia, official receptions, restaurants and hotels in South Korea throughout the competition.

As official sponsors, Sichel will supply an estimated 200,000 VIPs and football fans with red wine through its South Korean agent, The Doosan Corporation.

Sichel expects a sizeable 35% increase in its annual sales in South Korea as a result of the sponsorship, which is the first time the company has entered the sports sponsorship arena in a substantial way.

According to Charles Sichel, who is responsible for exports to Asian markets, the sponsorship will help the company raise its profile internationally and increase its visibility in South Korea, a country that has seen its consumption of alcohol rise by 20% since 1998.

"This spectacular rise is undoubtedly due to the leap in spirits consumption", says Sichel, "but there is no doubt that this market has huge potential for growth in the sales of wine and naturally our aim is to be a part of this."

"I'm tempted to add that as France is strongly tipped to reach the final - if not to walk away with the cup - it's an even greater opportunity to promote French wine and Bordeaux in particular."