Burgundy has become the site for some of the most harrowing tales in wine cinema. A devastating frost wipes out a vintage. An international supervillain stages an elaborate fraud. But few match the potential Pinot (film) Noir intrigue of “Shadows in the Vineyard”, a true wine drama of threatened vine sabotage and a high-stakes ransom on perhaps the most hallowed ground in wine: the vineyards of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC). Earlier this month, the film company, Landmark Studio Group announced that production would soon begin on a story that will strike fear in the heart of any Burgundy lover.
Adapting Maximillian Potter&rsqo;s book of the same name, the limited TV series “Shadows in the Vineyard” will dramatize the 2010 exploitation case that rocked the iconic estate and all of Burgundy. In January of that year, co-owner Aubert de Villaine received anonymous letters threatening to poison and destroy DRC‘s acclaimed, incalculably valuable vineyard, the Romanée-Conti grand cru monopole, unless a $1.2 million ransom was paid.
Writing in Wine Spectator’s “Unfiltered” blog, Colin Dreizen reports that: “The 2015 book ‘Shadows in the Vineyard,’ provides the foundation for the series. Noah Wyle and Judith Light have signed on to co-star. What followed was a saga unfolding in the usually quiet Côte d’Or.” “Max’s story is many things,” co-producer David Ozer of Landmark Studio told Unfiltered via email. “It is a mystery, a love letter to Burgundy. But I think what the creative team loves is the fact that it is a story of hope—of light triumphing in the face of darkness.” The producers also indicated the story will explore the writer Potter’s own transformative experiences, and a new appreciation for wine, gained during his time in Burgundy researching the book. “Production is planned to start in early 2021. While specific locations have not been decided yet, the producers would ideally film in real-life Burgundy”, Dreizen writes, Potter will be revisiting the story as a co-writer of the screenplay, and his team hopes to involve DRC and Burgundy locals as much as they can. “What the people of Burgundy went through during this event was a real trauma, in many ways,” Ozer said. “We want to respect that.”
But it wouldn’t be much of a wine drama without, well, wine. Wine will be central to “Shadows in the Vineyard”; and the team will be turning to expert wine consultants to get every element right. “We think that this is an incredibly complex, multifaceted story and, like a wonderful grand cru, there is so much to savor here,” Ozer stated. “It needs time to breathe, so as to allow all of these intricate elements to be fully realized.”
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