The resistance of the Languedoc town of Aniane to newcomers is affecting even Gerard Depardieu - proving that not even a Gallic hero is above suspicion.
In September last year it seemed that the French actor – who starred as Obélix in two Astérix movies – had succeeded where many others, including California wine giant Robert Mondavi, had failed.
Aniane residents claimed they welcomed Depardieu’s attempt to buy 2.2ha of vineyard in their small patch of the Languedoc. And Depardieu applauded the villagers’ battle against Mondavi, comparing it to the Gauls’ struggle against the Romans.
But Aniane winemakers are now accusing Depardieu, who closed the €40,000 (£26,000) deal yesterday on the new site, of using his wealth to pay over the odds for the vineyard. Philippe Coston, a third-generation Aniane winemaker said, ‘It’s a kick in the teeth for local growers – it’s impossible to buy anything around here that will allow you to make good wine.’
Local environmentalists and the powerful hunting lobby had resisted Mondavi’s plans on the grounds it would destroy the ecological heritage of the hillsides around Aniane. At the time, Depardieu compared the villagers’ fight with the Gauls’ struggle against the Romans, saying it was ‘an amazing story of this little village which resisted the invader.’
Written by Josie Butchart5 February 2002