Champagne Le Pen could be on supermarket shelves in three years’ time as French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen buys a 50% share of Champagne negociant François Daumale.
Le Pen, the 76 year-old who in 1987 described the Holocaust a ‘a detail in the history’ of the Second World War, says the move will ‘rock the grand bourgeoisie of Champagne’.
Le Pen and co-owner Patrick Bourson signed their first grape supply contract with Mailly-Champagne winegrower Michel Garitan last Friday. Although this only provides them with 5ha worth of grapes, Bourson is confident the contracts will continue.
‘Other agreements have been concluded with 37 growers in the Marne, the Aisne and the Aube for a total of nearly 100 hectares,’ he said.
Champagne’s regional newspaper l’Union de Reims claims that along with a Le Pen Champagne, a Rosé named Jany after Le Pen’s wife could be on sale in several European countries including Germany, Austria and Italy.
The two men have also stated their intention to leave the AOC appellation system for French wines and instead use an IGP (Proved Geographical Indication) label. They have also announced the creation of three unions with the aim of giving greater autonomy to producers in the region and to organise a ‘Champagne referendum’.
The committee of independents in Champagne (CDIV), the union of independent champagne houses (UMCI) and the general union of independent winegrowers (SGVI) are the three new unions.
Although Le Pen is happy to annoy the Champagne bourgeoisie, he also claims the role of protector of French viticulture.
‘I will try to defend this prestigious sector – the main target of a worldwide attack on our food-processing industry,’ he said.
Patrick Bourson, owner of the other half of François Daumale, suggested Le Pen buy into the Champagne negociant. Bourson’s wife, Catherine, is a Front Nationale regional councillor for the Marne department.
Written by Oliver Styles