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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 15:27 GMT
Asterix star to produce 'magic' wine
Depardieu plays the rotund Obelix in the Asterix films
Depardieu aims to create a potion Obelix would appreciate
With the nose for a good bouquet, French film star Gerard Depardieu is planning to make a high-quality wine in southern France.

Depardieu, who plays Obelix in the Asterix films, says his wine will rival the famous cartoon character's magic potion, which made the Gauls invincible.

Many small vineyards are up for sale in the Languedoc region
Depardieu is looking to buy in an established winemaking area

He is hoping to buy land in Aniane, to the north of Montpellier, in a well-established winemaking area where many small abandoned vineyards are up for sale.

He told the French paper L'Humanite he had fallen for the region.

"The Languedoc wines really say something about this land - they take us back to the ancestral values of the land and its people," he said.

We are going to work on a magic potion... which is going to make us all happy

Gerard Depardieu

He compared last year's battle by Aniane villagers to keep out a Californian wine producer with the Gauls' fight against the Romans in the film Asterix, casting the mayor, Manuel, in the title role.

"This amazing story of this little village which resisted the invader pleased me a great deal," he told L'Humanite.

"Manuel is a bit like Asterix. Well, that fits nicely: I am Obelix. We are going to work on a magic potion... which is going to make us all happy."

In the story of Asterix, the magic potion is a brew which imparts superhuman strength and makes the Gauls invincible in their fight against the Romans.

Ambassador

Depardieu said he would be delighted to invest in the area and that he was ready to take on a role as ambassador for the wines of Languedoc.

Depardieu is enthusiastic about the region and its wine
Locals hope the Depardieu name will promote their wine
He already owns two other vineyards, in the Anjou and Medoc regions.

Depardieu has said that his income from making films gives him the freedom to indulge his "passion for wine".

The first of the films adapted from the comic strip, Asterix and Obelix against Julius Caesar, was financially the most successful French film ever made, making $110m worldwide.

The latest film, Asterix meets Cleopatra, opened in French cinemas in early 2002 and is due to be released in the US in mid-2003.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

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