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Published:  23 July, 2008

By David Williams

The French Government has given its wine industry until 3 June to come up with a workable alternative interpretation of the Loi Evin, the controversial anti-alcohol advertising legislation that the industry claims is threatening its existence. The decision came at the end of a week that saw street protests by winemakers in Burgundy and a high-profile meeting between a delegation of French wine industry representatives and PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin. The BIVB claims that more than 2,500 wine professionals took to the streets of Chalon-sur-Sane on 26 February to protest against what they see as government persecution as it attempts to crack down on alcoholism and drink-driving. The marchers chanted Raffarin! Fight for our wines!' behind a float bearing a huge model of a bottle of wine under the guillotine. The protest came a day after the hour-long meeting with Raffarin in Paris, where delegates discussed the Loi Evin and its increasingly strict application, which has led to the withdrawal of generic campaigns by Burgundy, Bergerac and, if court proceedings brought by anti-alcohol group ANPA succeed on 8 March, Bordeaux. The industry blames the tough advertising restrictions, which limit drink ads to bottle shots of brands, and new drink-driving laws, for the drop in domestic consumption. In France wine is, legally speaking, considered as dangerous as spirits,' said Patrick Jestin, sales and marketing director at Bordeaux ngociant Dourthe-Kressman. In Spain, the government has recognised that wine is a separate product. We want the same to happen here.' The lobbying was set to continue after Harpers went to press on Wednesday 3 March, with 300 wine industry representatives descending on Paris to present their concerns to 100 MPs.