Sales of champagne fell by 4.4 per cent in volume terms last year, but increased exports helped compensate for sagging European consumption and kept revenue flat at €4.37 billion ($5.86 billion).

The slide in annual sales to 308.8 million bottles in 2012 was primarily due to the sharp 13.3 per cent fall in European sales and a 8.8 per cent fall in France in December, the Champagne Wine Professionals Committee (CIVC) said on Tuesday.

Exports of the high-end French sparkling white wine rose by 3.2 per cent however to reach a record high of 61 million bottles.

"More than ever champagne has an international value, and other countries represent an essential conduit to growth due to their strong consumption of prestigious vintages," said CIVC spokesman Thibaut Le Mailloux.