Sales of Franciacorta premium Italian sparkling wine were up 7.1% domestically and 7.5% in export across 2015, the region’s winemakers’ governing body, Franciacorta Consorzio, has announced.

Some 9% of sales by volume went to export markets, with 1.5 million bottles being shipped abroad out of a total of 16.5 million sold in total.

Japan is Franciacorta’s principal market internationally, taking 22% of all foriegn sales, with the US  accounting for 14%.

Sales in Japan and the US are up 19% and 16% respectively.

The consortium invested some 86% of Franciacorta’s revenue in 2015 in marketing the brand in both domestic and international markets.

The average bottle price nudged up slightly to around £14.70.

Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero proved particularly popular, growing 28.8%.

Vittorio Moretti, newly appointed president of Consorzio Franciacorta, said: “For Franciacorta, 2015 was a bright year. Expo was a challenging test which turned into a big plus and an important showcase, nationally and internationally.

“In terms of sales and brand awareness, we are trending positively both in Italy and abroad.”

Overall growth is down on the previous year, however. Domestic sales in 2014 were up 8.5% and exports up 17.4%, with exports representing 12.6% of sales volumes.

Franciacorta’s wine makers were the first in Italy to use the traditional method of secondary in-bottle fermentation for their sparkling wine.

Franciacorta is situated in Lombardy and achieved DOCG status in 1995.

The Franciacorta Consorzio now has 115 wine-producers as members.

It opened a trade office in London in 2013 to drive further sales in the UK.