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Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of…

Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World's…

by Maximillian Potter

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This book did not work, it is a fleshed out version of the Vanity Fair article. The book comes across as disjointed and full of filler, which is not really relevant to the story at hand. And too much sappy Le Grand Monsieur, les enfants etc. Not impressed and a disservice to the DRC. ( )
  APopova | Jan 2, 2017 |
Although the details of the crime could be written in a single chapter, this author delved into a lot of history of wine making in France, and this winemaker in particular. I found these stories mostly very interesting, something I didn't know anything about. I read for my nonfiction book club. ( )
  benismydog | Oct 22, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had great hopes for Shadows in the Vineyard. The announced plot theme sounded interesting and in a setting I know very little about. This was an expansion of a magazine article and I think would have been better unexpanded. The additional material does tell us a lot about the history and culture of French winemaking, but most of it does not add to the actual story and never is tied together in a meaningful way. ( )
1 vote Helenoel | Dec 21, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Aubert de Villaine should have been looking forward to well deserved twilight years. He had capably served for decades as the Director of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, one of the oldest and most respected vineyards in Burgundy -- and indeed, the world. And then, in 2010, the Grand Monsieur Villaine received a chilling communication: Pay a 1.3M euro ransom or I will poison your vines. Directions to annihilated vines were provided as proof of both ability and serious intent. Thus starts the real life drama, the details of which will horrify any wine lover.

In addition to following the police in their hunt for the oeno-criminal, we are treated interviews with Villaine and other personages, and provided with background on French wine making and vineyards. This even includes a fanciful, hair-raising trip through Parisian streets with Louis-Francois de Bourbon, cousin and adviser to King Louis XV. I greatly enjoyed the history and the winemaking. The ‘true crime’ aspects took a back seat, lacking the tension and intrigued I’d anticipated. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Dec 3, 2014 |
The subtitle tells you what half of this book is about. In 2010 a few vines were killed and over a thousand others held ransom at two Côte d' Or vineyards in Burgundy, most of them belonging to Romanée-Conti. Maximillian Potter weaves the story of the crime, the investigation, and the punishment with a history of Burgundy, the Côte d' Or, La Romanée-Conti and the personalities involved.

Along the way the history provides one of the better explanations of the reasons behind the classifications of Burgundy, while not getting into the details of the classifications themselves. Without the side-trips into history and politics the book would be very short indeed. As it is, the historic machinations of Madame de Pompadour, and Louis François, Prince of Conti, as well as the more modern business conflicts of Aubert de Villaine and Lalu Leroy pad it out to a reasonable length. They also hint, much like the main story, at stories that could be so much more, but ultimately are not.

Instead of scandal and insurrection, the failed plot resulted in the aristocrats in a distant standoff. Instead of scandal and massive upheaval of the business the former business partners became business rivals with different philosophies. And instead of master criminals an intrigue the police find a sad petty criminal with dreams above his ability who confesses easily and doesn't even make it to trial.

At the end, Potter touches on the illusion of wine, and how easily people are deceived into believing in quality when told a price. Appropriate then that the book hints at many things more elaborate and interesting than they are when telling the story of a failed crime committed against one of the most expensive wines, with a price artificially elevated to the point that most of us will never see a bottle, let alone taste it. ( )
  grizzly.anderson | Nov 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Expanding on an article first published in Vanity Fair, Potter ushers readers into the Burgundy cellars of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, one of France’s most prestigious wineries, and introduces its proprietor, the humble Aubert de Villaine, as he outlines a plot to extort a million Euros from him.
added by mysterymax | editPublishers Weekly (Jun 23, 2014)
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For Lori and our enfants, True and Jack
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The sun over Burgundy's seemingly endless expanse of richly green vineyards belonged to late summer.
The Prince de Conti was the type of renaissance man who continued to engage in picaresque, libidinous adventures, relishing every opportunity to insert himself into affairs of all sorts.
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Expanding on an article first published in "Vanity Fair" Potter ushers readers into the Burgundy cellars of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, one of France's most prestigious wineries, and introduces its proprietor, the humble Aubert de Villaine, as he outlines a plot to extort a million Euros from him.… (more)

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