Sunday 25 September 2016

'Wine terrorists' flood town

Rory Mullholland

Published 04/08/2016 | 02:30

'In April this year, French wine makers hijacked five tankers full of Spanish wine on the border, pouring the equivalent of 90,000 bottles of red and white down the drain in protest at 'unfair competition' Stock photo: PA News
'In April this year, French wine makers hijacked five tankers full of Spanish wine on the border, pouring the equivalent of 90,000 bottles of red and white down the drain in protest at 'unfair competition' Stock photo: PA News

An entire street, cellars of apartment blocks and underground car parks have been flooded with wine in a southern French town after a suspected act of sabotage by a shadowy group of "wine terrorists."

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Thousands of litres of the tipple poured out of five giant vats of a wine merchant late on Tuesday evening in the Mediterranean port of Sète.

The wine flooded the avenue Maréchal-Juin, the street in front of the wine merchant's premises, and was several inches deep along a stretch of the road.

It also found its way into the cellars and underground car parks of nearby apartment blocks, and the smell of wine filled the entire district.

It took firefighters half an hour to drain the liquid away.

Police did not comment on what had caused the massive leak, but the local press was quick to speculate that it was the work of saboteurs such as the Comité d'Action Viticole (Wine Action Committee), a shadowy group of "wine terrorists" bent on militant action to protect local produce from foreign imports.

The group, which previously went under the name CRAV, has been active since 1970 in France's biggest wine-growing region, now called Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi- Pyrénées, where Sète is located.

It has in recent years hijacked tankers of foreign wine and dynamited government buildings or supermarkets.

In April this year, French wine makers hijacked five tankers full of Spanish wine on the border, pouring the equivalent of 90,000 bottles of red and white down the drain in protest at "unfair competition".

It is speculated that the Comité d'Action Viticole was also behind that attack.

Industry figures show that France is now the biggest buyer of Spanish wine - purchasing almost 400 million hectolitres in Languedoc-Roussillon alone in 2014, and some 10pc more last year.

Irish Independent

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