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Irate French winemakers threaten Tour de France blockade after learning of Chilean wine deal

Situation contrasts markedly with Giro d’Italia’s Chianti stage

Winemakers in southern France are reportedly threatening to 'block' the 2016 Tour de France when it passes through the region. Their gripe is that ASO, the organisers of the race, have signed a deal with the Chilean wine group Cono Sur, which produces the Bicicleta label.

The Chilean deal was actually signed in early 2015 and even before that the wine was linked with the UK Grand Départ in 2014. However, according to, the Aude winemakers’ union have only just found out about it – and they aren’t happy.

Stage 11 of this year’s Tour will pass through the Languedoc region and the union’s president, Frédéric Rouanet, said: “We have no contact with Amaury Sport and we feel very strongly about this issue. We intend to block the Tour de France at strategic steps if a French wine is not chosen to represent this cycling event, the emblem of France.”

France being France, the area does have a history of wine militancy. The Comite Regionale d’Action Viticole group has previously set fire to telephone exchanges and attacked wineries believed to be holding foreign wine. It believes local winemakers aren’t given enough financial support.

However, the matter isn’t so simple. Even if ASO wished to promote a French brand, the country’s Evin Law bans media advertising of any drink with an alcohol content of more than 1.2%. Cono Sur’s Bicicleta is therefore only linked with the Tour de France on its foreign stages, which this year are in Spain and Switzerland.

The situation presents a stark contrast to that in the Giro d’Italia, which this year features a 40.4km time trial through the Chianti wine region as one of its signature stages. In unveiling the stage, race director Mauro Vegni described the terrain as being “black rooster territory” in reference to the symbol adorning bottles of Chianti Classico.

The stage is part of celebrations marking the 300th anniversary of the date in 1716 when the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de’Medici, defined the official boundaries of the Chianti region.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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darrylxxx | 8 years ago

Let's retaliate by boycotting French wine... No. Wait. We need another plan.

SteppenHerring | 8 years ago

Well, he was from near Normandy (ish) so I can imagine The Badger enjoying some evil rough Calvados before some fisticuffs and a whole pheasant.

Butty | 8 years ago

Will The Badger take a few swings at them?

captain_slog replied to Butty | 8 years ago

Butty wrote:

Will The Badger take a few swigs...?

He's always struck me as more of a real-ale man.

brooksby | 8 years ago

I can see that it would be appropriate to have French wines linked with the Tour, but does it matter so much? I never drink French wine, myself, anyway.

(And I sometimes wonder if the organisers should give in and just accept sponsorship from some huge pharmaceutical company...)

BigYin replied to brooksby | 8 years ago

brooksby wrote:

(And I sometimes wonder if the organisers should give in and just accept sponsorship from some huge pharmaceutical company...)


Hmm... like the Amgen Tour of California...

(the Irony of a Cycle Race being sponsored by the Manufacturers of EPO presumably being lost on them...)




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