The leading seller of French wine into the US has said that the US boycott on French consumer goods, in retaliation for opposition to the war in Iraq, has begun to have an effect on sales.

Speaking in Bordeaux at a meeting of wine merchants in the region, Nicolas Gailly, head of Barton et Guestier said sales had fallen as US distributors made less of an effort to promote French wines. "It's not politically correct to promote French products generally and wine in particular," he said.

US Consumers, distributors and retailers have come under pressure in recent weeks not to trade in French wines because of the opposition of the French government to the US-led war in the Middle-East. The boycott has led to scenes of restaurateurs pouring bottles of Claret down the drains but was generally believed to have had little impact on a wider scale.

However, while the boycott may have not filtered through to the consumer, the catering industry and the retailers do seem to be taking note of it and avoiding promoting French brands.

Louis-Regis Affre of the French wine and spirt export federation said yesterday: "What we fear and what is already having direct effect is a boycott not of consumers but of distributors amidst very heavy competition."

Other merchants, including Baron Philippe de Rothschild called the situation "delicate". Ginestet, meanwhile, said it had seen "a very clear drop in the number of French wine bottles appearing on store shelves."