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Protest group unleashes flood of wine in southern French town

Dominique Faget, AFP |This file picture taken on November 10, 2005 in Quarante, southern France, shows wine that was poured on the ground in a city wine cellar by 'CRAV', which in French stands for the Regional Committee for Viticultural Action

Far from the land of milk and honey, in France the streets flow with wine--at least they did after a protest group sent the contents of five enormous vats of red wine streaming into the streets of a port town in southern France.

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The rivers of wine flooded basements, car parks and homes, according to the Midi Libre newspaper. Unfortunately for locale oenophiles who might have shown up for a free drink, emergency services had the mess cleaned up in half an hour, the paper reported.

The sabotage took place around midnight on August 2 in Sète, in Languedoc-Roussillon, one of France's biggest wine producing regions. It was directed against wine distributor Biron. Up to 50,000 litres of wine were spilled.

 

A radical group of wine producers, the Regional Committee for Viticultural Action (CRAV) claimed responsibility for the act the following day. The group of "wine terrorists" has gained a certain notoriety for its wine-related subversive acts, which it uses to protest the growing presence of low-cost foreign wines in the French marketplace, particularly those from Spain.

"Why did we do it? Because no one listens to us,” a CRAV activist told television channel France 3.

The group had previously claimed responsibility for the July 19 arson attack on offices owned by the Vinadeis wine group in Maureilhan, another town in the same region. In the past it has hijacked tankers of foreign wine and bombed government buildings and supermarkets, according to press reports.

Frederic Rouanet, a union leader for winemakers in the Aude region of Languedoc, condemned the attacks but told Decanter.com that he also had concerns about the amount of Spanish wine being sold in French supermarkets. Rouanet argued the competition is unfair because taxes are lower in Spain and regulation less stringent.

France is the largest importer of Spanish wines.
 

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