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French Wine Exports 2006
Article translation by Walt Ballenberger
The above graphic shows French wine exports from 2004-2006 in millions of
hectoliters (100 liters = 1 hectoliter).  Also shown are the breakdowns of the different
styles or categories of wine exports.

French Wines Gain Ground but Issues Remain
Article from AFP (Agence France Presse) released 2/27/07

French wines, confronted by the powerful rise of wines from the New World, made
gains last year in foreign markets, reaping the fruits of the efforts to offer better
marketing and prices, even though the face lift still is not complete.
“The results obtained by our exports show that we are on the right track.  We need to
keep moving on the path of reforms that we have outlined”, underlined Louis Régis
Affre, general delegate for the Federation of Exporters of Wines and Spirits of
France (FEVS)

In 2006 exports of wines and spirits climbed 13% to attain a new record of 8.74
million euros, with a notable increase in international sales of still wines.
As for still wines, France took back two points of market share (14%) in the United
States from Australia, the highest demand being for the wines of the grands crus
classés of Bordeaux and of Bourgogne.

“The economics of wine are changing.  I am extremely optimistic for the next 25
years, wine will be one of our top products”, commented Philippe Casteja, president
of the FEVS.

Two harvests of excellent quality, in 2005 and 2006 and “significantly lower prices
(between 20 and 25%) because of the crisis” (the crises refers to the over-
production of wine in France) improved the competitiveness of French wines, M. Affre
continued.

The wine crisis is not “behind us”, however, he pointed out.  The profession needs to
“continue with its efforts to improve quality and readability (of labels) in order to be
competitive in all segments of the market”.

As for quality, restructuring and new plantings were accomplished to obtain products
better in tune with demand.

“Pools of production” bringing together the producers of the appellations and the
vins de pays were formed, and here all the actors debate which strategies each
region should follow and the ways to add value to their different products.

A new category was created: “Vignobles de France” (Vineyards of France).  These
are produced by grape categories (merlot, cabernet, etc.) and they come from
different regions.  Before this these types of wines were only produced in their region
of origin which put them at a disadvantage compared to New World competitors.
Thus there is sufficient supply to support marketing strategies that can better
respond to the needs of consumers.

In parallel with this, the reform of the AOC rules which has begun should bring about
more rigor and better control of quality.

It still remains to improve labels which are judged by foreigners to be “incredibly
complicated” with names “impossible to pronounce”, as pointed out in a study by the
American firm Delaitte et Cie/Deussen.

“We are considered, whether in the United States, Royal Kingdom, or in Japan, as an
old country with a complicated portfolio, too expensive, snobbish, and elitist”,
underlined M. Affre.  There are many “false perceptions” we must overcome in order
to give “a more modern image of our wines” in our publicity campaigns.

This effort is critical at a moment when the consumption of wines in France is going
down.  The professionals are thus going to look toward the United States- the
Americans will pass the French in 2008 as the largest consumer country in the
world-,to China and even to Russia.
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