Wine grape assassin threatens centuries-old vineyard

Who would poison the vines of La Romanée-Conti, the tiny, centuries-old vineyard that produces what most agree is Burgundy’s finest, rarest, and most expensive wine? When Aubert de Villaine received an anonymous note, in January 2010, threatening the destruction of his priceless heritage unless he paid a one-million-euro ransom, he thought it was a sick joke.

From Vanity Fair:

The winter-night sky above the Côte d’Or countryside of Burgundy, in eastern France, is cloudless, with just enough moon to illuminate the snow-covered ground and silhouettes. From dense woods atop a hill, a man emerges. He moves from the trees and starts down the gently sloping hillside—and almost immediately he is surrounded by vineyard. The vines are frost-dusted and barren, twisted and vulnerable, like the skeletons of arthritic hands reaching for spring.

The vineyard is within a sea of vineyards that stretches seemingly without end to the man’s left and right: row after row after row they unfurl, barely separated from one another by ribbons of fallow land or narrow road. In the direction he walks, easterly, the vines flow with him down the hill, continuing as the ground flattens, until off in the distance they end at a small village. The hamlet, Vosne-Romanée, is constructed of ancient stone and topped with shake shingles, its humble, storybook skyline marked by a church steeple. At this late hour, in early January 2010, shutters are closed, and no one stirs.

For more, see: The Assassin in the Vineyard

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