A boost in French wine sales in the UK at the end of 2000 could herald a change of fortunes for the country. Its sales grew by 4% in November and December according to ACNielsen but this has been overshadowed by the unstoppable progress of the New World, particularly the Australians whose sales went up by 13%. The industry is speculating that the Australians could become the UK's leading wine supplier but the French have pointed out they still provided 23.6% of wine in the UK off-trade (volume) last year, while Australia accounted for 16%. Francois Collache, managing director of trade body Sopexa said: "Last year France lost share but the picture is not completely black because of the progress made in the last two months. That period is usually an important indicator. It is when the quality and image of the product becomes more important. "Maybe this shows a change in consumer attitudes to French wine." The average price of French wine is also increasing but not as fast as the Australians. Collache said: "It would be better if the average price was higher, but the reality is that France has been selling a lot of wine under £4 in the UK for a long time." France also does not have the benefit of the big brands from the New World driven by a small number of large companies. Collache said "We have a strategy based on the diversity and multiplicity of tastes and products, and on the people and terroir of different areas." He said the generic work of the appellations such as the Côtes du Rhône and Loire will continue. "There is still work to be done and the industry knows this, but you cannot transform our industry and make it similar to Australia." {{DRINKS }}