Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVI: UNDERSELLING IN WINES - The Comedy of Protection
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CHAPTER XVI: UNDERSELLING IN WINES - Yves Guyot, The Comedy of Protection 
The Comedy of Protection, trans. M.A. Hamilton (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1906).
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UNDERSELLING IN WINES
Renunciation of a natural monopoly—Protection to Medoc: M. Méline’s advice—Aramon—No underselling of good wines.
The Free Trade Movement had been headed by the southern departments of France—the great wine-growing district of Gironde to the west, and Hérault to the east. When the French wine-harvest was reduced by phylloxera, it was necessary to turn to Spanish and Italian wines. In proportion as the vineyards of the 1,900,000 wine-growers recovered, the exclusion of foreign wines was demanded, and the law of January 11, 1892, placed them on the maximum tariff at a duty of 1s., and on the minimum tariff at 1d. per degree of alcohol for the first 10 degrees, with a Customs duty proportionate to the rise in the consumption of alcohol for each degree over and above. Until the wine-growers began to demand Protection people had imagined that wine only came from Bordeaux. They renounced this traditional monopoly by showing that such good and cheap wines could be got from Spain and Italy that the French growers needed Protection against them. It was strange enough to see the wine-growers of Medoc become fervent believers in Customs duties, nominating an ardent Protectionist as their member; but as a matter of fact it was not Protection but expansion that was needed by the great vineyards of Bordeaux, Château Yquem, Haut-Brion, Château Margaux, Château-Larose, Château-Lafitte, &c. At the warehouses they had been in the habit of making an excellent blend of French and Spanish or Italian wines, which commanded a large market in France; when it was suppressed the blending was done at Pasages, in Spain. Méline had said to the wine-growers, “I will give you Protection; you can then make as much wine and of such quality as you want, and your countrymen will be obliged to drink it.” Acting on this advice the growers of Hérault and the other southern departments planted a vineyard called Aramon, from which a great quantity of wine was made, containing 4, 5, or 6 degrees of alcohol, which would not keep at all. Formerly the strong wines of the south had been used to enrich the thin wines of the centres; now they needed enriching themselves, and for this purpose some 132 to 198 million gallons were imported annually. A series of abundant harvests caused complaints on every side of the small sale of wine. The south shook, as a contemporary wit declared. But in spite of all the efforts of the Government and the indignant protests of the deputies, the consumption of weak wines that would not keep could not be forced either at home or abroad.
The result of the duties on wine is a striking example of the illusions and deceptions resulting from a Protectionist policy. There is never any difficulty in selling wine which the producer can keep, for the indifferent years, both as to quantity and quality, are far more numerous than the good years.