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WINE

French Game of Thrones superfan develops his own Lannister wine

A French winemaker and Game of Thrones superfan has developed his own version of Dornish wine, the favoured tipple of Tyrion Lannister.

French Game of Thrones superfan develops his own Lannister wine
Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage, is famed for his love of wine. Photo: AFP

“Dark as blood and sweet as vengeance” – such is the wine favoured by the nobles of Dorne, one of the seven kingdoms in the fantasy world of Westeros where the sweeping saga is set.

Rarely does an episode pass without one of the characters caught up in the savage struggle for the Iron Throne sipping a goblet or three, with Tyrion Lannister a particular fan of the vintage from the southern kingdom of Dorne. 

For Thibault Bardet of the Vignobles Bardet winery in Saint-Emilion in France's Bordeaux region, the idea began in 2016 while watching an episode featuring Tyrion – a central character known as “the imp” because of his diminutive stature – who is rarely seen without a glass in his hand.

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The wine is made at the Vignobles Bardet winery in Saint-Emilion. Photo: AFP

“We thought: wouldn't it be great to be able to taste what he's drinking,” Bardet told AFP.

“I wanted to pay a special tribute (by creating) a wine that could be drunk in Game of Thrones. I didn't try to make the best wine possible but the wine that was closest to the series,” he said. 

A fan since the show was launched eight years ago, Bardet's idea sparked the creation of two specialist wines: a “Dornish Wine” and another called “The Imp's Delight”.

 

The series, which premiered in the United States in 2011, is an adaptation of five fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin, with the eighth and last series now showing in 186 countries. 

After checking online that no such wine already existed, Bardet decided to try and reproduce it, but that took some work. 

“There is very little about it in the series. But in the books, it's huge. I simply copied and pasted all the references to the wine. It amounted to 40 pages,” the 29-year-old said. 

With all the available facts at hand, Bardet went to see his father, who handles the technical side at the winery. 

“It's a very fruity wine, intense, dusky, heady, with notes of oak,” says his father, Philippe Bardet. 

“It is a 100 percent Merlot from Bordeaux.”

In the books, Dorne is known for its arid, desert-like terrain, and the grapes used to make “The Imp's Delight” were grown in a sandy plot within the Saint-Emilion estate, while the “Dornish Wine” is a Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux. 

The smallest grapes are chosen for their concentrated flavour, and the wine is kept in casks for a time to both enhance its flavour and to recall the Middle Ages, the era the saga reflects. 

And to get further into the spirit of the series, there are no sulphites in “The Imp's Delight” which Tyrion promises to give to his friends after the war ends — which gives the vintage “a more intense purple hue” and a “slightly bolder flavour”. 

Even the label is stylised — round like the shields of Dorne, but also bearing two golden lions, the seal of House Lannister.

But like the series, the wine could soon be on its final outing after a challenge from HBO, which is likely tied to the fact that the network already has an official supplier of four wines linked to the series. 

It has, however, allowed Vignobles Bardet to sell its remaining stock of 15,000 bottles to wine dealers or individuals, mainly in Europe. 

Until now, the winemaker has sold a similar number, with bottles of  “Dornish Wine” retailing at €17 and “The Imp's Delight” at €29. 

And Bardet is hoping to send several bottles to the author of the series as well as to its main actors. 

And himself? He likes to watch the series with a group of friends over a bottle of each vintage. 

“It's better than 5D,” he grins. “It's an immersive experience!”

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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Snobs, beaches and drunks – 5 things this joke map teaches us about France

A popular joke 'map' of France has once again been widely shared on social media, sparking endless jokes at the expense of certain regions of France.

Snobs, beaches and drunks - 5 things this joke map teaches us about France
Image AFP/cartesfrance.fr
But while the map – created by cartesfrance.fr – is clearly intended to be comic, it teaches us some important points about France’s regional divides, local stereotypes and in-jokes.
 

 
 
 
Here are some of the key points.
 
1. Everyone hates Parisians
 
The map is purportedly France as seen through the eyes of Parisians, and contains a series of snobbish and rude generalisations about every part of France that is not maison (home) in the capital and its surroundings. The great majority of the country is labelled simply as paysans (peasants).
 
The general stereotype about Parisians is that they are snobs, rudely judging the rest of the country which they regard as backwards and full of ploucs (yokels) apart from small areas which make nice holiday destinations.
 
Like all sweeping generalisations, this is true of some people and very much not of others, but one of the few things that can unite people from all areas of France is how much they hate les parigots têtes de veaux (a colloquialism that very roughly translates as ‘asshole Parisians’)
 
 
2. Staycations rule
 
Even before Covid-related travel restrictions, holidaying within France was the norm for many French people.
 
As the map shows, Parisians regard the southern and western coastlines as simply plages (beaches) which they decamp to for at least a month in July or August. In the height of summer French cities tend to empty out (apart from tourists) as locals head to the seaside or the countryside.
 
 
In winter the Pyrenees and Alps are popular ski destinations.
 
3. Northerners like a drink
 
There is a very widespread stereotype, although not really backed up by evidence, that the people of Normandy, Brittany and the Nord area like a drink or two. Many suggest this is to cope with the weather, which does tend to be rainier than the rest of France (although has plenty of sunshine too).
 
 
Official health data doesn’t really back this up, as none of these areas show a significantly greater than average rate of daily drinkers, although Nord does hold the sad record for the highest rate of people dying from alcohol-related liver disease.
 
What’s certainly true is that Brittany and Normandy are cider country, with delicious locally-produced ciders on sale everywhere, well worth a try if you are visiting.
 
 
4. Poverty
 
The map labels the north eastern corner of France as simply pauvres – the poor.
 
The north east of the country was once France’s industrial and coal-mining heartland, and as traditional industries have declined there are indeed pockets of extreme poverty and high unemployment. The novel The End of Eddy, telling the story of novelist Edouard Louis’ childhood in a struggling small town near Amiens, lays out the social problems of such areas in stark detail.
 
However poverty is not just confined to one corner of France and the département that records the highest levels of deprivation is actually Seine-Saint-Denis in the Paris suburbs.
 
5. Southern prejudice
 
According to the map, those from the south are either branleurs (slackers) or menteurs (liars). 
 
This isn’t true, obviously, there are many lovely, hard-working and truthful people in southern France, but the persistent stereotype is that they are lazy – maybe because it’s too hot to do much work – and slightly shifty.
 
Even people who aren’t actually rude about southerners can be pretty patronising, as shown when south west native Jean Castex became the prime minister in summer 2020. 
 
Castex has a noticeable south west accent which sparked much comment from the Paris-based media and political classes, with comments ranging from the patronising – “I love his accent, I feel like I’m on holiday” – to the very patronising – “that accent is a bit rugby” (a reference to the fact that TV rugby commentators often come from France’s rugby heartlands in the south west).
 
 
In his first year as PM, Castex has undertaken a dizzying schedule of appointments around the four corners of France, so hopefully the lazy myth can now be put to bed.
 
And anyone tempted to take the piss out of his accent – glottophobie (accent prejudice) is now a crime in France.
 
For more maps that reflect France, head to cartesfrance.fr
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