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ITALIAN BUBBLY EXPORTS TO USA OVERTAKE FRENCH CHAMPAGNE

28 December, 18:35
ITALIAN BUBBLY EXPORTS TO USA OVERTAKE FRENCH CHAMPAGNE (ANSA) - Rome, December 28 - Exports of Italian sparkling wines to the United States this year overtook those of French champagne in volume and narrowed the gap in terms of value, according to the Italian Wine & Food Institute (IWFI).

The volume of spumante and prosecco exports in the first ten months of the year jumped by 13.4%, for a total of 137,810 hectoliters, compared to the same period in 2008, IWFI said.

The increase in the value of these exports was put at 7.6% to $87.66 million.

At the same time, exports of French Champagne dropped 27.8% in volume and 41.5% in value. However, the high price of the French wine kept the value of 2009 exports at $225 million, down from $384.77 million in 2008.

Despite the exploit by spumante and prosecco, the economic downturn cut into overall Italian wine exports to the USA which for the first ten months to the year fell 4.6% in volume, to 1.712 million hectoliters, and 14.9% in value, for a total $966.19 million.

Production of Italian bubbly also overtook that of champagne this year for the first time.

Italian vineyards are expected to yield 300 million bottles of bubbly this year against 260 million bottles of champagne, according to the Italian farmers' union Coldiretti.

In 2008, for the first time ever, Italy exported more spumante and prosecco than it consumed.

The vast majority of Italian bubbly is made using the Charmat Method, as opposed to the traditional Champenoise Method.

The Charmat Method, invented in the early 1900s by Eugene Charmat, involves putting bubbles in wine by adding sugar to a sealed tank, letting a second fermentation take place and then transferring it to a bottle under pressure.

In the Champenoise Method, invented by the French monk Dom Perignon in 1640, the wine is fermented in the same bottle in which it will eventually be served.

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