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Crash chateau dismisses xenophobic letter by ‘militant group’

A letter supposedly from a militant French farmers' group has warned winemakers not to sell to foreigners and cited the recent helicopter crash at Chateau de la Riviere - a link rubbished by the Bordeaux estate.

Authorities in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region are reportedly investigating a group calling itself the Comite d’Action Agricole after it handed a signed letter mentioning the crash at Chateau de la Riviere (pictured) to the local Midi-Libre newspaper.

The letter did not claim direct responsibility for the crash, but it did connect the incident to its prior warnings to anyone negotiating the sale of agricultural estate to foreign buyers.

The crash at De la Riviere happened one day after James Gregoire had agreed to sell the estate to Chinese billionaire Lam Kok. Both are missing and presumed dead, alongside Kok’s 12-year-old son and financial adviser, after the crumpled helicopter that they boarded was pulled from the Dordogne river on 23 December.

Those selling to foreigners would find themselves ‘at the bottom of a river or six feet under’, the militant letter was quoted as saying in Midi-Libre. The paper cited a local state prosecutor as treating the letter’s claim with scepticism.

‘We are aware of the article,’ De la Riviere’s managing director, Xavier Buffo, told decanter.com. ‘I think it holds no merit.’ He said the whole episode of the past few weeks remains ‘very fresh and painful’.

Languedoc-Roussillon has a history of militancy in agriculture, and wine specifically, spanning more than 100 years. In 2007, balaclava-clad men claiming to represent the Comite d’Action Regionale Viticole (CRAV) were filmed at night issuing a warning to French president Nicolas Sarkozy, although one senior ex-leader in the organisation later described this as ‘a mistake’.

Look out for an interview with Chateau de la Riviere’s Xavier Buffo, coming soon on Decanter.com

Written by Chris Mercer

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