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Angry French winemakers attack Spanish lorries, block depot

Tension is rising in southern France after winemakers staged a day of action, emptying at least one tanker of Spanish wine and blocking a depot used by the wine subsidiary of Carrefour supermarket.

  • Sixty protesters block supermarket-owned depot near Nîmes

  • They then attacked a tanker suspected of carrying Spanish wine

  • Protesters claiming allegiance to militant group  CRAV – or CAV – dump Spanish wine in shopping centre car park

Several protests took place in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region on Tuesday (17 January) against cheap Spanish wine imports.

At around 6:30 am, 60 winegrowers blocked the entrance to Prodis, the wine subsidiary of the Carrefour supermarket group, in Grizan near Nîmes. The site is known to be used for producing bag-in-box wines.

Some protesters then went to the motorway toll of Gallargues-le-Monteux, 25 km from Nîmes, to find lorries containing Spanish wine.

A single lorry was found and its contents dumped on the highway.

It is the latest in a series of protests.

‘Our tanks are full and prices are falling’

They were protesting against ‘unfair competition’, according to Anaïs Amalric, co-president of Jeunes Agriculteurs du Gard.

‘These Spanish imports prevent us from selling our French products,’ Amalric told Decanter.com.

‘Our tanks are full, prices are falling and wine merchants are asking us to lower prices. This is unacceptable,’ she said.

In parallel, further south in Narbonne, militant winemaker group CAV has claimed responsibility for 10 winegrowers dumping nearly 25,000 litres of Spanish wine from another lorry in a shopping centre car park.

The letters ‘CAV’ were found in the car park and on the truck, according to Agence France Presse.

Also known as CRAV, the group has intermittently attacked foreign wine installations in Languedoc for several decades.

Tensions are rising in the vineyard and protests are multiplying, as the region gears up to host the Vinisud trade show.

‘We have not planned any actions for Vinisud,’ Amalric said.

‘Not for the moment. But we know that some independent winegrowers [selling bottles, not bulk wine] also want to take action and join us in this battle against unfair competition.’

Last year, several wine industry leaders in Languedoc sounded the alarm over cheap Spanish imports. Some producers also hijacked lorries and attacked depots, but local unions officially condemned the violence.

Critics have said that French winemakers must accept competition from other EU member states. But some Languedoc winemakers claim that fewer taxes in Spain make competition unfair.

Editing by Chris Mercer

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