BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's exports of sparkling wine to the rest of the world fell last year for the first time in a decade, Eurostat said on Friday, largely because of a massive drop in champagne sales, though prosecco and cava sold well.
The COVID-19 pandemic dampened wine trade globally in 2020, the latest year for which data are available, as restaurants and bars remained closed for long periods.
Champagne was hit the hardest. Sales outside the EU of the famed French sparkling wine fell over 20% by volume to 66 million litres in 2020 from nearly 84 million litres the previous year.
That largely contributed to a 6% overall drop in EU exports of sparkling wines last year compared to 2019, the Eurostat data showed.
EU exports fell from a peak of 528 million litres in 2019 to 494 million litres in 2020 - still nearly twice the level recorded in 2010.
Of the three main categories of sparkling wine exported from the EU, only champagne recorded a significant drop by volume.
Prosecco, which is by far the most exported, recorded sales outside the EU of 205 million litres in 2020, compared to nearly 207 million litres in 2019.
Cava, which is produced in Spain, bucked the trend by increasing its extra-EU exports by more than 10% to 58 million litres in 2020, getting closer to replacing champagne as the second most sold EU sparkling wine outside the 27-nation bloc.
Total champagne sales, including in the EU, fell 18% last year by volume, producers' group CIVC has estimated.
Despite the drop in sales by volume, vintage champagnes have proven a lucrative draw for investors this year, outperforming all major financial market assets from Big Tech to bitcoin. Salon le Mesnil's 2002 vintage surged more than 80% in value in 2021 on online platforms.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Gareth Jones)