terroir, or terrorism

What a difference a little "i" makes. A group of angry wine-grape growers in the Languedoc-Roussillon have had enough. For a while now they've been involved in smaller acts of outrage: scrawling angry graffiti on local wine shops that sell "foreign" wines, tossing a couple of bombs, and tipping tanker trucks carrying grape juice not grown in France. Now that Sarko's in charge, this group -- the Comite regional d'action viticole, or CRAV -- says it wants action, or else. "Nous sommes au point de non retour." (We're at the point of no return.)

Question is, what, or where, exactly would that point be, if one could return? The Languedoc grows a lot of grapes, and makes a lot of wine. Not all of the wine is great; a lot of it, however, is improving. "Foreign" competition, whether from colonies or from the nasty "new world," (with bottles often better suited to grab eyes on supermarket shelves) has been a scourge. During the turn of the century, growers suffering through a depression in wine prices on the world market revolted en masse, requiring the French army to come in with the goal to calm the crowds, but ended up shooting a few people in the process. It was, as this well-researched article points out,
a very French affair: a mixture of moderation and extremism; a contest between local pride and suffering and central government arrogance and neglect. The solution, initially part-muddle, part-confidence trick, led eventually to an elaborate system of classification of wines which did much to make the international reputation and success of French wine. (The Independent, June 20, 2007)
And so now CRAV says it's acting in the spirit of those 1907 revolts, but it's unclear whether they've got serious traction with the locals or whether they're just a bunch of guys armed with spray paint and a couple of non-lethal explosives. Because really, we've got enough terrorists in the world right now. I support raising a local drinking quota; might mellow tensions, at least for the time being.