Chiquet, whose label Gaston Chiquet produces about 200,000 bottles a year, said France and Europe generally will remain the most important markets for Champagne. But for the numbers to climb again "we'll have to rediscover optimism."
"Champagne remains a drink for celebrating the big events of life," said Chiquet. "Happily for sales, at the end of the year, the French rely on tradition. Still, we're not going to catch up. Unfortunately, what's lost already is lost."
Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo and researchers Fu Ting in Shanghai and Flora Ji in Beijing contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.