I’m not a drinker of alcoholic beverages so the intricacies of the connoisseurs of fine wine and the wineries with traditions older than America are totally lost on me. So is the charm of Benjamin Lebel and the murder mysteries “Blood of the Vine” (Le Sang de la Vigne).
Lebel is a wine expert. He’s a mature man with a casually coiffed full head of white hair, a grey moustache and a grizzled not-yet-filled in beard. He dresses in a medium grey suit. Every year, he publishes a guide about wine. The police use his expertise to help solve crime in Bordeaux and the regions of Cognac and Champagne.
“Le Sang de la Vigne” was a 2011 French TV series, adapting the books of Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen from the eponymous books series by the publishing company Fayard.
Watching “The Tears of Pasquin” (“Les Larmes de Pasquin” adapted from “Saint Pétrus et le saigneur”), I found him not particularly charming. Benjamin Lebel (Pierre Arditi) is not a drawing room detective, but he’s also not the P.I. who might find himself in trouble in love, or in danger or even stuck in some daily dealings. He’s a gentleman who lives a comparatively easy life. One might compare him to Jessica Fletcher in “Murder, She Wrote” but his territory is more realistic. Fletcher’s Cabot Cove seemed like a cozy town with an unnaturally high rate of murder. Lebel chances into the affairs of the rich or the famous.
In “Tears,” a elderly man has been found dead next to a full glass of wine. There are a row of empty glasses. What could that mean? The local police turn to Lebel; he identifies the wine’s vintage. Lebel begins his own investigation.
In “Le Coup de Jarnac” (“Le Dernier Coup de Jarnac”) Lebel and his assistant arrive at a castle to audit their books and reserves, only to be suspiciously turned away. The next day one of the family members of the castle is found dead. Lebel investigates who these two events are connected.
Other mysteries involve his daughter, former loves and former assistants. Included in the first season are “Margaux’s Robe” (“La Robe de Margaux”) and “Mission in Pessac” (“Mission a Pessac”).
The details that would require a man of Lebel’s expertise are much lost on me. Yet if you like an easygoing murder mystery that teases your appreciation of fine wine and France, this series might appeal to you. For me, as much of a Francophile as I am, is not worth watching. “Blood of the Vine” is available on MHz Networks.