Book Reviews

Book Review: Shadows in the vineyard

On January 2010, Aubert de Villaine, the manager and part owner the Domaine de la Romanee Conti, the tiny, storied and one of the world’s most famous winery, received an anonymous note threatening the destruction of this priceless vines, unless he pays one million Euros ransom.

This superbly researched and fluid narrative starts with the Grand Monsieur (Aubert de Villain), and highlights the historical background of Burgundy, how count de Conti, a courtier of Louis XV, bought the vineyard and attached his name to it.

The author has been able to write a book on wine in general, but in particular domains (wineries that grow the fruit, make the wine and bottle it) reads more interesting and informative than many others on the subject penned before.

The narrative of all the characters and imagery is vivid and seamlessly melds across time and geography.

The author confesses to have had no appreciation of wine before he took on the project, but learned enough to write a compelling book about Burgundy, its wines and the Domaine de la Romanee Conti, to inspire others to travel there, not only to experience the region’s culture, especially gastronomy and wines, but even to settle there.

Shadows In The Vineyard is about wine lore that stretches back for centuries and that of the Domaine, which represents the pinnacle of red Burgundies.

The book is not only about the Domaine and its part owner and manager, but also the French Court of Louis XV his influential mistress Madame de Pompadour.

I have been enjoying wine and teaching about it for a long time, and read many books on wine, but this one offers a story that blends a historic vineyard, Aubert de Villaine, and a gripping crime drama presented in a particularly captivating fashion.

Non-fiction lovers will love it, as wine lovers, and readers will never forget it. Many non-wine drinkers may even decide to start appreciating wine.

This is a must read for wine enthusiasts, and those who like to read crime stories.

Highly recommended. Get it before it is out of print.

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