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From Mondavi to Depardieu

The Global/local Politics of Wine

Diane Barthel-Bouchier and Lauretta Clough

This article examines this crisis in wine production through the prism of one Languedocien village faced with a decision of utmost economic and social significance. In 2000-2001, the California winemaker Robert Mondavi tried to buy land in the village of Aniane in order to build a winery that would produce wine of exceptional quality. The Mondavi company was already installed nearby in Montpellier as a purchaser of wines to be incorporated into its own blend under the label of Vichon M?diterran?e. Its representative, David Pearson, was well acquainted with the local political scene. What Pearson and Mondavi appear to have underestimated, however, was the symbolic significance that would be attached to their attempt to purchase land in Aniane. For the land they wanted to buy was not private but communal, and they weren?t ordinary winemakers but representatives of an American-owned multinational corporation.