BEVERAGES: Bubbly Blues

Not since World War I, when some of northern France's finest vineyards were turned into bloody battlefields, has the French champagne industry seen bigger trouble. Having grown steadily and sometimes spectacularly since the mid-1950s, sales of the French bubbly have been in a steep slide. Last year French vintners were horrified when champagne sales dropped 16% below the 1973 peak of 125 million bottles, to 105 million bottles. This year sales may fall below 100 million bottles for the first time since 1969. "We're not a product of primary necessity," says Jean-Michel Ducellier, head of France's Union of Great...

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