Grapes of Wrath
Winemaker Paul Chabal, based in Uzès in the Gard, has created a cuvée of Merlot and Syrah, the profits of which will be donated to a fund in support of strikers against the pension reform. An initiative that is part of the long tradition of those who “feed the strike”, in the literal sense.
In his former life, 34-year-old Paul Chabal lived in Paris and worked in music.with a precarious status, as a DJ and employee of a bar“. Above all, he was an activist. A lot. First against the El Khomri labor law in 2016, which triggered the Nuit Debout movement in which he participated, then against the Macron ordinances on the labor law in 2018. But a year ago, Paul Chabal changed his life: he is now winegrower and winemaker in the Gard, in Uzès, where he shares five hectares with two other winegrowers, Thomas Bouet (Domaine des Magesses) and Sébastien Chatillon (Domaine Ad Vinum). They do not have a common domain but carry out part of their work collectively: “We make three cuvées together, a red, a white and a rosé.” Two weeks ago, they spontaneously created “Caisse de strike”, a cuvée of red produced in 200 bottles, the profits of which will be donated to the CGT strike fund.
“I wanted to make this cuvée because I am concerned and involved politically, but as a farm worker and winemaker, I don’t have much of a hold on the movement. I sell the cuvées directly, by word of mouth, on social networks…” he said on the phone. The label, inspired by the iconography of May 68, was designed by a graphic designer friend, who prefers to remain anonymous. If Paul Chabal remains polite in the interview, on his Instagram account, the tone is firmer: “Macron embodies, with unprecedented violence in France, the neoliberal logic, the defense of the interests of the richest, determined to destroy all forms of solidarity and everything that can stand in the way of the unbridled exploitation of humans and nature. . It is now clear that this reform was never intended to perpetuate the distribution model but only to force us to use our lives a little more at work to protect the rents and subsidies offered to capital.
Feed the strike
In France, farmers’ pensions are very low: between 800 and 1,200 euros per month on average. In the preamble to the bill on pension reform of January 25, 2023, it is even written that the “Average monthly pension for direct pensioners affiliated primarily to the scheme for non-salaried agricultural employees amounted to 800 euros per month in 2020, compared to 1,510 euros for all direct pensioners”. For Paul Chabal, the new reform project is a setback: “Peasants and agricultural workers, often with incomplete careers, having worked with sub-status or even without being declared, will be doubly penalized”, he writes on its account. For all those who do not have a full career, hoping to reach 1,200 euros a month is an inaccessible grail – hence the desire to do something, even remotely, with this special cuvée. It must be said that feeding the strike by selling food before or during demonstrations comes from a long and beautiful tradition, like Release had reported in this report dated 2020: sausages, pâtés, mulled wine and other invigorating foods fill both stomachs and unions.
As for the vintage of Paul Chabal and his friends, it is a “one week maceration of merlot and syrah in direct press. I would say that you shouldn’t drink it right away, it’s a cuvée for laying down, very structured, with present tannins and good color intensity, without input, without sulphur”. To drink in a year, when the reform will be nothing more than an old nightmare?