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Thursday, November 18, 1999 Published at 16:30 GMT


Drinkers say non to Nouveau

Wine buyers are cancelling orders

Farmers in the UK have hailed a boycott of Beaujolais Nouveau wine in protest over France's ban on British beef as a huge success.

Nouveau - made from young grapes picked two months before bottling - is traditionally sold on 18 November and the UK is one of the biggest importers.

Food Row Fears
More than 2.2m bottles are usually sold in Britain, with Nouveau theme evenings at pubs and restaurants and a race to get the first bottles back from France.

A spokesman for the National Farmers' Union, which declared Thursday British Beef and Beer Day, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the support shown for the day. More than 300 pubs up and down the country have been serving British beef and beer today in support of farmers.

"We are quite bullish about the fact that as well as highlighting the quality and availability of British products we are protesting at the continuing illegal French ban on British beef."

Sales in the UK are expected to be down sharply this year because of the dispute.

A French evening to celebrate this year's vintage was scrapped by a Cornish Lion's Club.

The Truro club re-named the event Kernow Nouveau, selling locally produced Kernow wine instead, in support of Cornish farmers.

One wine wholesaler from Barry in south Wales - who has appeared in the "Guinness Book of Records" as the fastest importer of Beaujolais Nouveau in the world - has cancelled his normal order for 4,000 bottles.

Importer Ron Porter also said sales of French wine are down by 30%.

Laissez faire attitude

A number of restaurants have cancelled special French events and are serving British beef and English wine instead.

National Farmers Union leader Ben Gill said: "We are sending a clear commercial message to the French Government that Britain will not accept this arrogant attitude that they have displayed.

"You cannot possibly have a founding member of the European Union choosing to cherry-pick which rules it will apply".

However, the French appeared to be adopting a phlegmatic attitude to the British boycott.

Jacques Melac, owner of a wine bar in Paris's 11th district, said: "I think the British people are jealous because they have no wine and it's raining all the time."

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