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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Tim Atkin

Industrial unrest has flared again in the Midi, after the self-styled CAV (Comit d'Action Viticole) attacked the premises of the ngociant company Bessire in Mze on the night of 29 January. According to local sources, this was the most serious of the recent attacks, causing an estimated e3.8 million of damage. Members of the CAV broke into Bessire's bottling hall at 10pm, where they emptied vats containing 1,500 hectolitres of wine, before setting fire to boxes and wooden pallets. The ensuing blaze and explosion destroyed the bottling line and severely damaged the 100-year-old company's offices and storage areas. Hindered by strong winds, the Mze fire brigade struggled with the fire until the early hours of the morning, but succeeded in saving Bessire's maturation cellars. Managing director Daniel Bessire was at a loss to explain the attack. I've got an excellent relationship with growers in the region,' he told Midi Libre, and I've never imported a drop of foreign wine.' The Mze police force has launched an investigation into the incident, but the guilty organisation would seem to be evident: CAV members inscribed their group's acronym in two places in the loading area. Police are investigating a possible link with the attack on the premises of Frigovin on 16 January (see Harpers, 25 January and 1 February), which was targeted by the CAV because of its cheap Italian wine imports.