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Beaujolais head steps down over ‘unacceptable pressure’

There are more signs of rising tension between Beaujolais winemakers after Sebastien Coquard, president of the Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages body, told producers he was stepping down.

Coquard is believed to have resigned from his position as president of the ODG (trade body) for Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages on 17 October.

An email memo signed by Coquard and seen by Decanter.com says that he faced ‘threats’ to his privacy and was under ‘untolerable’ pressure.

No allegations were made against specific individuals, but the move is a further sign of tension in Beaujolais, where winemakers recently agreed an uneasy truce with local merchants over prices for the promising 2015 vintage.

‘I have constantly repeated, explained and warned that without a fundamental re-evaluation of our economic organisation and marketing methods, we will not succeed in reversing a curve that that has been dropping for over 20 years,’ says the statement signed by Coquard and dated 17 October. He questioned winemakers’ commitment to unity.

‘I have had enough of working under pressure, and even receiving threats to my privacy. This is unacceptable and I cannot tolerate it.

‘In this context, I have decided to reclaim my freedom. So I have announced to the board of the ODG [the regional body], which met on Friday 16 October, that I am resigning from the post of president.’

Coquard had been president of the local winemaking council since 2013, and involved in the Beaujolais region for eight years.

Recent street protests in Villefranche-sur-Saône were only the latest episode of a turbulent period for Beaujolais. Producers were also split over proposed appellation rule changes last December.

‘The is always some pressure on people like us,’ Frédéric Laveur, président of ODG Beaujolais Villages and owner of Domaine de la Petite Maison Haute. ‘We are vignerons and our job is to make wine, not to make politics. In a very difficult period, I can understand that people resigned. Sebastien Coquard was an excellent President.’

(Editing by Chris Mercer)

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