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World Wine Sales Brisk, but French Producers Hungover

ng Kong, double the attendance in 2005. Other countries with a strong presence at Vinexpo this year included India, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

"We have had great interest from Uruguay and Brazil, two markets we are focussing on," said Axel Vallet of Bordeaux wine wholesaler Ginestet.

Apart from the importance of exports, particularly to emerging markets, to producers, Vinexpo also tackled the issue of moderate drinking.

With France in the throes of campaigns to cut back drink-driving, a study by Educalcool, a Quebec based educational body, showed that over the last 20 years Quebecers are drinking less but better.

Educalcool said at a conference that its aim is to convince people that moderation is a rule without exception, or that "getting plastered even once is once too often".

But many French producers feel anti-alcohol campaigns have gone too far given the drastic decrease in domestic consumption.

As Bordeaux wine producer and owner of internationally known Chateau Angelus, Hubert de Bouard, put it: "Not many people drive home drunk on Petrus."

Much of the global wine and spirits industry remains wary that it may be taken down the same road as the tobacco industry and is in consequence keen to self-regulate and take responsible drinking seriously.

But Robert Joseph, a wine critic and 20 year veteran of the wine business, said the industry "will get, and deserves, a lot of the flak coming its way."

The industry had not been thinking of anything more than "making it and drinking it", he said.

"They have not been thinking about alcoholism," added Joseph, who was at Vinexpo to launch his Greener Planet organic wine range.

It was incredible, he said, that in France people could protest about more stringent drink driving laws after having had one of the highest road accident rates in Europe.

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