Foreign Legion goes domestic with wines

Psst. Wanna help out an old Legionnaire and get a little something for yourself in the bargain?

The French Foreign Legion yesterday officially went into the wine business with an unveiling in Paris of its "Esprit de Corps" wines that will be sold online for about $11 US per bottle to raise funds for its veterans homes.

Its 2007 Cotes de Provence red and rosé vintages are produced from grapes grown in southern France on property purchased in 1953 to provide shelter for wounded and elderly Legionnaires.

The storied Legion, a 7,700-man elite military organization founded in 1831 and easily recognized for the kepi blanc, its famous hat, is made up of volunteers from 150 nations. It has often been a place of last resort for adventurers, fugitives and soldiers of fortune.

"Solidarity is not a hollow concept for us," Gen. Louis Pichot de Champfleury, the Legion's commander-in-chief, said during the ceremony. "The men we recruit often join because they have no other choice. They arrive brutally, they may have faced death, their situation is often delicate.

"When Legionnaires are forced to return to civilian life," he said, "it can be difficult, and when we hear of a Legionnaire in distress we fly to their rescue."

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