French film star Gerard Depardieu savours a glass of one of his own vintage reds, and dwells on the origins of his love affair with wine.
"I even believe my mother's amniotic fluid was wine!" joked the thespian and vintner who has played the likes of Cyrano de Bergerac and Obélix over a critically acclaimed career.
Depardieu, 54, whose latest film City of Ghosts came out in April, started making wine 30 years ago, near the start of his screen career, when he bought one hectare (2.47 acres) in Burgundy.
In 1989, having firmly established his name as one of France's top actors, he moved up to a 110-hectare domain, Château de Tigne, in Anjou which now produces 500,000 to 600,000 bottles a year.
Following a meeting in 2001 with Burgundy-based global wine merchant Bernard Magrez, Depardieu acquired Château Gadet in Medoc, and 2.2 hectares at Aniane, in the Languedoc region.
Depardieu calls Magrez "my spiritual father ... we share the same unbearable energy, the same love of life (and) the same demands for perfection."
These "special cuvées" are particularly close to Depardieu's heart, as he is eager to defend the time-honoured ways of winemaking in an era of mass production.
"These 'special cuvées' are like making a film in a foreign country," he said. "You are three months in that country, you learn to know its history, its culture."
"To make such wine is to know a 'terroir' (the qualities of a particular soil) that pleases you. It's about having two, three hectares, then simply producing the best that the soil can give you."
His Aniane vineyard is in the same area where local opposition led big-volume California winemaker Robert Mondavi to drop plans to move in and make high-class Languedoc with prices to match.
Personally, Depardieu favours "Ma Verité" (My Truth), one of his own exceptional vintages, for its robust character, and Bouquet's "La Croix de Peyrolie" (The Cross of Peyrolie) for its subtlety.
He also likes "Monica", an Algerian wine that he can't find words to describe.
Another of Depardieu's "special cuvées" is baptised "Les Confessions" (The Confessions), in reference to the thespian's penchant for the writings of Saint Augustine.
"I wine-taste left and right," he said. "In every country where I make a movie, I seek and find. Often I wind up in places where there's wine: Hungary, Moldova, Chile, Argentina. There's wine everywhere."
And how does Depardieu juggle equally demanding roles of actor and winemaker? He takes a sip of his nectar and explains: "It suffices to take one's time."
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