Demonstrators show their bottle

  • Thursday 12 April 2001

A demonstration by French vintners last week culminated in a masked attack on a supermarket in Montpelier.

As part of a vociferous protest against imported European wine, a masked objector entered the local store and proceeded to smash all wine bottles with a VDPCE label (Vins des Differents Pays de la Communaute Europeenne).

The demonstration, involving winemakers from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, was intended to keep up the pressure on the authorities to take measures against the importation of low-quality, low cost wines from other parts of the European community.

Brussels have authorised labelling such wines VDPCE but the vintners want labels to stipulate the origin.

Action by angry vintners in the south of France is nothing new. In 1998 a demonstrator polluted a tanker containing imported wine in Sete harbour by pouring diesel oil into the hold. Also, in March 1996, two people were killed in clashes between police and vintners near Narbonne.

The problem seems to be the fact that the French are drinking less wine than ever, especially cheap wine.

According to a recent survey by ONIVINS (Office National des Vins) the average consumption of 105 litres per person per year in 1980 has plummeted to only 60 litres. While twenty years ago 47 per cent of the French population were daily wine drinkers, today the amount has almost halved.

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