Serious disturbances erupted at the Spanish border with France, at the Boulou toll booth (in the Pyrénées Orientales department) on October 19th, as reported by several French trade publications. Following a call from the Syndicat des Vignerons de l‘Aude (SVA), French protestors reportedly blocked Spanish trucks, destroyed crates of Freixenet Cava, and emptied a tank of Spanish red wine. According to reports, this wine was destined for the Nîmes location, a subsidiary of the Carrefour Group, one of the leading French companies in the retail sector. While the company Henkell-Freixenet confirmed to the German trade magazine Weinwirtschaft that its wine imports were affected, they declined to comment further on the incident.
The Spanish industry association, Interprofession du Vin d'Espagne (OIVE), expressed its outrage. In a press release dated October 19, the association strongly condemned the attacks on Spanish wine in France and called on the French Ministry of Agriculture to respond.
Further steps threatened
The Syndicat des Vignerons de l'Aude has, in a subsequent letter dated October 20, 2023, which is addressed "to all wine buyers, without distinction" (literally translated) demanded that all purchases of wines from other regions or from abroad be halted "until the wines from our department are sold at a profitable price, meaning the price of 2020, taking into account the inflation of the past years." In the conclusion of the letter, the president, Frédéric Rouanet, threatens further action: "We will not fail to carry out checks to ensure compliance with this demand. We will be very vigilant."
"We will not fail to carry out checks to ensure compliance with this demand. We will be very vigilant."
On the French side, in response to the incidents and the letter, among others, the Union des Maisons & Marques de Vin (UMVIN) has issued a press release. The entire French wine industry is suffering from the decline in wine consumption due to various circumstances, and imports from Spain have also declined accordingly. "When contemplating how to address the fragile overall situation with solutions, this cannot happen by threatening buyers and pitting one part of the industry against another," appeals the traders' association. It also cannot happen by repeatedly attacking Spanish transports at the border, which has proven completely ineffective in the past. They, too, called on the state to respond.
The last comparable attacks in Le Boulou, according to the industry magazine Vitisphere, date back to May 2017, when French imports of Spanish bulk wine reached their peak. ITP