Firemen fighting the flames at Robert Curbières’ cellar.
Photo DDM, Roger Garcia – la Depeche.
Edouard’ Fortin’s bottles – image from France 3.
Those who oppose the nastier aspects of “industrial” wine production – its alleged soullessness – may like to pause to consider the occasionally very ugly face of Southern French artisan winemaking.
Two weeks ago – on November 14 – a person- or persons-unknown broke into the cellars of Robert Curbiéres, producer of organic wine in the south west appellation of Cabardès. They emptied his vats of recently harvested 2013 wine and started a fire that destroyed the buildings and their contents including all Curbiéres’ bottled stock. Also lost that night were all of the bottles of wine produced by a young winemaker called Édouard Fortin who was storing his wine in Curbières’ cellar.
Curbières has no idea of why and how he came to be targeted – there were no threats – but he is head of the – farmer’s union – Confédération Paysanne – in Ventenac-Cabardès and admits to speaking his mind at meetings. But Curbières and Fortin are only the most recent victims of this kind of attack.
In February 2010, Domaine Pech Redon lost eight vats of wine containing 5-600hl of la Clape, while in April this year, Katie Jones of Domaine Jones in Tuchan lost a quarter of her crop when vandals broke in and emptied the vats containing all of her Grenache Gris white.
So far, no one has been arrested for any of these attacks, but on the positive side, many of the producers’ neighbours have rallied to their support. A thousand local citizens demonstrated on behalf of Curbières and Fortin and a Cuvée Solidarité has been put together rapidly by a number of producers to raise money for Fortin.
This support is encouraging of course, but the fact remains: two acts of similar vandalism within six months suggest that the solidarité of winemakers of South West French leaves much to be desired.
Curbières’ and Fortin’s neighbours demonstrate on their behalf
– image from France 3.