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Loire wine festival cancelled over ‘far right’ controversy

A wine festival due to be held this weekend in France has been cancelled over concerns that one of its stallholders formerly belonged to a far right group.

La Fete des Vins d’Anjou-Saumur 2024, due to begin on Saturday 18 May, has been axed after complaints were made about one of its stallholders who had signed up to showcase his wares.

Jean-Eudes Gannat, who has a stall selling stuffed buns, is alleged to have been a former spokesman for the now-banned far-right political group Alvarium.

The Union of Producers of Great Wines, which organised the wine festival, said it was forced to cancel the event after facing “a campaign of intimidation” by leftist activists, and “threats of anti-racist protests”.

Alvarium was dissolved in November 2021, with Emmanuel Macron’s government accusing the group of publishing “messages justifying discrimination against and hatred of foreigners or French people of immigrant origin by likening them to offenders, criminals, Islamists or terrorists”.

The group, founded by a former Front National activist (Marine Le Pen’s former party) and based in the city of Angers, was told it was no longer allowed to pursue its activities, which from 2021 counted as criminal offences.

Alvarium described itself as a “convivial and militant community” carrying out “social action in the service of those whom the state prefers to ignore”.

A statement on the group’s website read: “Our community intends to create links between those who refuse cowardice and the abandonment of our people and its history.”

A large number of AOC ‘Anjou Rouge’ producers were expected to be present at the wine festival this weekend to present their wines. And while this part of the Loire Valley is indeed known for its Cabernet-based reds, (supported by Gamay and Pineau d’Auni) it also arguably produces some of the world’s finest Chenin Blanc.

The AOC Anjou appellation extends over 1,200 hectares, including 128 municipalities in Maine-et-Loire, nine in Vienne and 14 in Deux-Sèvres. Its dark schist soils grow Chenin, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the region’s light, aromatic wines often have floral notes of violet and iris.


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