Weaker shipments of Burgundy and Bordeaux to key markets caused an overall drop in French wine exports in 2014, overshadowing stronger demand for Champagne, show new figures.

French vineyard owners have had a tougher time in export markets in the past year

Total French wine exports fell by 3.3% in volume to the equivalent of 1.7bn bottles, while the value of exports sank by 1.7% versus 2013, to 7.44bn euros, according to wine and spirits export body FEVS.

Appellation wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux were among the biggest fallers during the year, each dropping by 13% and 9.5% in volume respectively, to 279m and 75m bottles.

Part of the problem for Burgundy, in particular, has been a series of low-yielding harvests. FEVS president Christophe Navarre alluded to this problem more generally in his comments on the figures.

‘Our companies are caught between a structural deficit in the availability of stock and the ability of our competitors to give consumers better value for money,’ he said.

Despite recent figures suggesting that top Bordeaux has regained some ground in the fine wine market, FEVS figures showed the overall value of exports of Bordeaux appellation wines still dropped by 17% in 2014, to 1.78bn euros.

Burgundy exports dropped by 1% in value, to 710m euros. Champagne houses and growers had a better year, with exports up by 7.8% in value to 2.4bn euros.

The UK was among the weakest of France’s key export markets last year. Total wine shipments to the UK dropped by 10% in value to 1.4bn euros for the year, and by 6% in volume.

Navarre also highlighted ongoing problems in China due to the government’s anti-austerity measures.

While French wine exports to China, excluding Hong Kong, fell by 7% to 423m euros, shipments crept up by 0.1% in volume to 154m bottles.

Written by Chris Mercer