Strong brands and a high-profile off-trade campaign have increased sales of wine from the French Côtes du Rhône region, which in turn has driven overall sales of French wine, it is claimed.

Nielsen figures showed sales of wines from the region were up 11.7% in volume and 10.8% in value [MAT to end April 2007].

"Brands play an important part in the overall mix for Rhône, especially for those looking for an easy, low-risk and reassuring route into regional France," said Liam Grant, marketing manager at Bottle Green - owner of the French Connection brand.

He confirmed the company would be adding several more wines from the region to its range this year.

Tesco would also be adding to its Rhône range this August, said product development manager Graham Nash, who praised the 'Think Red, Think Côtes Du Rhône' campaign.

"It encourages customers to have the confidence to experiment and buy Rhône wines," he said.