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Low-cost Spanish wine feels grapes of French producers’ wrath

Author:   |  May 17th, 2017

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Spanish wine enjoys a place at the top table the world over, even in France - much to the dismay of local producers.

Spanish wine enjoys a place at the top table the world over, even in France – much to the dismay of local producers.

Winemakers in France have gone on the rampage in French supermarkets in protest at their practice of importing and selling Spanish wine at a fraction of the cost of French wine…

Vignerons from the French towns of Gard stormed the wine aisles at the Metro and Geant Casino supermarkets in France’s Occitanie and Nimes regions, collecting case after case of Spanish wine before smashing the bottles in the car park outside.

The protestors are angry at these supermarkets’ bulk-buying of wine from Spain – a deal struck years ago between Spanish wineries and the owners of many of France’s largest supermarkets.

While the local French wine – made in the famous Languedoc-Rousillon region – is highly regarded, it costs far more than Spanish wine, which is available to wholesalers and consumers for a much lower price, while also being of a good standard.

French Winemaker Mathieu Calegari told France 2 TV that his entire 2016 crop of French wine remains unsold. “We have almost 1,000 hectolitres, it is beautiful wine, but I cannot sell it. There is no explanation,” he said.

The main explanation, however, appears to be one of simple economics. Spanish wine imported from the Valencia region is produced at just 30 euro cents per litre – which is half the cost of French wine.

This is, of course, no laughing matter for thousands of French winemakers that have seen their profits shredded and livelihoods threatened, and there are political moves afoot designed to deliver a more even playing field.

However, while labour costs remain lower in Spain, it is highly unlikely that French supermarkets will overlook this far more cost-effective source of high quality wine – and that suits Spanish wine producers just fine.

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