One of our favorite French mysteries is ‘Blood of the Vine‘ (Le Sang de la Vigne)- a crime show centering around enologist (expert in wine making) and all too enthusiastic amateur detective Benjamin Label.
The show in ongoing with five seasons under its belt so far and is a fun look into the different areas of France that specialize in wine. Brandy, Champagne, Merlot – each episode gives you a glimpse into how they are produced and the risks involved. Jealous neighbors, vindictive ex-lovers, invading pests, and on-setting droughts set the stage for Benjamin to work his magic.
Benjamin (Pierre Arditi) has yet to meet a murder case he didn’t immediately throw himself into whole-heartedly, usually to the frustration of local police and to the exasperation of his sidekicks.
Each episode features Benjamin visiting some new area to give advice to some local wine-growers, attending conferences, or advising on a vineyard sale. It varies as to whether he is accompanied by France (his lovely fiancé and a fellow wine specialist) or Silvère and Mathilde (his young assistants). At each stop, they find themselves caught in a murder requiring Benjamin’s special skills and insight.
Reviewers have compared Benjamin to Miss Marple for his charming personality and easily ability to inspire trust and comradeship. A little sip of wine and a few nods to their skills and people are all to ready to share their scandals and secrets.
‘Blood of the Vine’ isn’t always lighthearted (we wouldn’t really expect a French show to be so) and often revolves around broken relationships and families. But it has its comedic moments and is filled with a wonderful cast who interact well together. Featuring an older star, the show has less of the overt sexuality common to French films and is more centered on Benjamin’s role as a mentor and friend.
We personally love Benjamin because of his skills as a boss – he never steals credit and always goes out of his way to give Silvère and Mathilde the opportunity to show off their own talents and abilities. He often introduces them as his ‘partners’ and pressures clients to recognize them as professionals in their own right. He’s a good man. . . kind, understanding, and relatable. It’s those very qualities that make him such a great private detective.
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