California wine icon Robert Mondavi's dream project in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France has been abandoned due to local opposition.

The company said: "Legal and political obstacles have resulted from the change in local government…..and these raise such uncertainty about the project that it is no longer feasible to continue."

The California winery aimed to produce a top quality single estate syrah-based wine in the Commune of Aniane. Over the last four years it has heavily invested in research in the region and, in July 2000, a parcel of forestland was selected by Mondavi.

A proposal to lease the land from the Commune was made and the mayor at the time, Andre Ruiz accepted the offer. However, the programme involved the deforestation of the land and the local organisation.

And, Association pour la protection de Massif, with over 200 members, including the prestigious domaine Mas de Daumas Gassac, protested against the destruction of this natural habitat.

However, earlier this year a newly appointed council and mayor Manuel Diaz came to office who fiercely oppose the scheme and rejected the project.

Mas de Daumas, although insisting it has nothing against Mondavi, announced that it is pleased about the cancellation of the vineyard project.

David Pearson, Mondavi's representative in Aniane, explained that recent talks with the mayor had not proved to be constructive and there was little local support for the continuation of the venture.

Lyn Parry