(AGI) Rome, Sept 6 - France is expected to produce around 10 percent less wine than last year, with production stopping at 42.9 million hectolitres, far below the 48.5 million estimated for Italy by the Italian Institute of Services for the Agri-Food Market (ISMEA). The data was reported by the Italian Association of Farmers (Coldiretti) on the basis of statistical research by France's Ministry of Agriculture. It indicates that France will not only lose its primacy to Italy but may even fall behind Spain, where initial estimates are putting wine production at 45 million hectolitres. "France's production debacle is due to spring frosts in certain wine areas - Champagne, Burgundy, and the Loire Valley - as well as recurring winds, increasing aridity near the Mediterranean and hailstorms that affected vinyards in Charente, Burgundy-Beaujolais, and Languedoc-Roussillon," Coldiretti stated. "Production trends in Italy's various regions differ vastly, with Veneto in the lead at 9.7 million hectolitres - 2 percent more than last year. Production is expected to rise by 5 percent in Emilia Romagna, 8 percent in Tuscany and 5 percent in Piedmont. Apulia's is also increasing, while a 15 percent drop is predicted for Sicily, one of the most productive regions." Wine harvests in Italy began on Aug. 12 in Franciacorta, almost a week later than last year, when intense heat and aridity meant harvests had to begin at the earliest time in a decade. Italy's end result will largely depend on the weather in September, but current conditions point to a good year after a particularly mild winter and early germination. If no adverse weather conditions occur, Italy is expected to set aside over 40 percent of its wine production for Italy's 332 DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) wines and 73 DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) wines, while 30 percent will go to the 118 IGT (Typical Geographic Indication) wines recognised in Italy. The remaining 30 percent grown from 650,000 hectares and more than 200,000 wine producers will be used for table wines. The production trends are also good news for Italy's wine exports, which in the first three months of 2016 were 2 percent higher than the record levels reached last year, Coldiretti affirmed based on data from the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). It estimated that more than half of this year's wine revenue will come from foreign sales. (AGI). .