Local wine makers staged a protest last Saturday at an autoroute pay station just outside Bordeaux.

The demonstration followed another protest outside the Conseil Interprofessional du Vin (CIVB) in Bordeaux a few weeks ago.

The aim of Saturday’s demo was to make tourists more aware of the problems facing Bordeaux winemakers, in the shape of surplus stocks, lower prices and fierce competition from overseas markets.

‘Since we can no longer sell our wine, we are simply giving it away,’ was the explanation as 1,500 bottles were handed out along with notices stating, ‘Save our heritage, drink Bordeaux’.

In the 1990s, when a basic red brought €1,500 a barrel, many producers invested in new equipment and land, but can now expect just €700 for the same amount of wine.

Didier Cousiney, President of the newly-formed Collectif des Viticulteurs, is asking for more help from the powerful Bordeaux négotiants and the CIVB with marketing and distribution, alongside a minimum price of €1,000 per barrel.

‘We are not marketing professionals,’ he said. ‘And this is what we pay our fees for, but today the marketing only goes on classed growths. The smaller producers are getting smaller, and the big getting bigger.’

This viewpoint is denied by the CIVB, and its newly-elected president, Christian Delpeuch. He plans several far-reaching measures to help with the current crisis, but sees these demonstrations as counter-productive. ‘Bad practices mustn’t be allowed to hide behind a global wine surplus – we must use it as an opportunity to make important changes to our industry.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux