Wine, protest and Macron: why southern French wine producers are so angry

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The ‘vinuous terrorists’ of Languedoc-Roussillon are battling changing French drinking habits and a new president as they seek to preserve the region’s traditions

There is no love for politicians among the winemakers of the Languedoc-Roussillon. But in the vast stretch of vineyard that covers the south of France from the Rhône in the east down to the Spanish border, protest and dissent are as much a part of life as pétanque and vin rouge.

It’s a sentiment with a long tradition. Just over a century ago, in the spring and early summer of 1907, the Midi’s wine industry was at the centre of one of the most violent eruptions of civil unrest in the country’s modern history, as angry crowds in the hundreds of thousands brought the region to a standstill, battling with the army and railing against what they saw as neglect from Paris after sales of local wine had collapsed in the face of competition from Algeria and adulterated wines from elsewhere in France.

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