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Grand Cru Heist

Nightmare in Burgundy

by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, translated by Anne Trager


The start of a wine plus crime mystery series.


Immerse yourself in French countryside and gourmet attitude with two amateur sleuths gumshoeing around Bordeaux wine country.


In modern-day Bordeaux, there are few wine estates still within the city limits. The prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion is one of them. When some barrels turn, world-renowned winemaker turned gentleman detective Benjamin Cooker starts asking questions. Is it negligence or sabotage? Who would want to target this esteemed vintner? Cooker and his assistant Virgile Lanssien search the city and the vineyards for answers, giving readers and inside view of this famous wine region. Treachery in Bordeaux is the first of the 21-book Winemaker Detective series that delves into the underworld of a global luxury industry. The world of wine is no more respectable than the world of finance. There’s money, deceit, death, crime, inheritance, jealousy—all the ingredients needed to distill a fine detective series!

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Made for TV

The series is being adapted to television in France, attracting an audience of over 4 million. This first book aired in February 2012 as Mission à Pessac. The series is a huge success in France, Belgium and Switzerland.


The authors

Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, wine lover and music lover respectively, came up with the idea for the Winemaker Detective series while sharing a meal, with a bottle of Château Gaudou 1996, a red wine from Cahors with smooth tannins and a balanced nose.


The main character

Treachery in Bordeaux establishes the characters for the series. The protagonist, Benjamin Cooker, is in his fifties, at the top of his career and has a distinguished English gentleman veneer. His sidekick, Virgile, is the young, handsome, sexy one representing the younger generation. Benjamin is the winemaker par excellence, whose vocation is to help wine estates around France and elsewhere to make great wines. On French television, the part is played by French actor Pierre Arditi, who loves adapting this series because the character’s sensibilities, culture and personality help him solve the cases. A winemaker’s analytical ability, based on sensory perception and details, is not so far from that of a police inspector. Cooker is an iconoclast, unforeseeable, stubborn, guided by his instincts, feelings and his memory of aromas and savors.



“I love good mysteries. I love good wine. So imagine my joy at finding a great mystery about wine, and winemaking, and the whole culture of that fascinating world. And then I find it’s the first of a series. I can see myself enjoying many a bottle of wine while enjoying the adventures of Benjamin Cooker in this terrific new series.”

—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Back Bay and The Lincoln Letter


Treachery in Bordeaux is a fine vintage forged by the pens of two very different varietals. It is best consumed slightly chilled, and never alone. You will be intrigued by its mystery, and surprised by its finish, and it will stay with you for a very long time.”

Prize-winning, bestselling author Peter May


“An excellent translation. The author obviously knows Bordeaux extremely well, and he knows quite a bit about oenology. The book should be a hit with lovers of Bordeaux wine.”

–Tom Fiorina, The Vine Route

“A series you can read with great pleasure.”




  • Booklist: “Alaux and Balen offer intrigue and plenty of good eating and drinking within just a few pages. Already turned into a popular television series in France, this book and its successors will whet appetites of fans of both Iron Chef and Murder, She Wrote.”
  • ForeWord Reviews Winter Edition review of Treachery in Bordeaux: “…the journey through its pages is not to be rushed.”
  • Review of Treachery in Bordeaux from AustCrime: “It is the perfect book for people who might like a little treachery with their evening glass of Bordeaux, a little history and tradition with their Merlot.”
  • Rachel Cotterill Book Reviews on Treachery in Bordeaux“An enjoyable, quick read with the potential for developing into a really unique series.”
  • “Review of Treachery in Bordeaux”, French Village Diaries review: “It is a good read with some strong characters, it moves nicely and is easy to follow, even with quite a bit of technical wine speak.”
  • Criminal Element publishes an excerpt of Treachery in Bordeaux
  • 4-star Amazon review: ”How delightful to read a mystery without a gory death. This short book deals with a crime at a winery. I suggest pouring a glass of your favorite beverage, on a chilly evening, before a fire and reading this book cover to cover in one sitting.”
  • 5-star Amazon review: ”If you like wine and mysteries this book is for you! Great geographic descriptions of the wine country of France.”
  • 5-star Amazon review: ”This books weaves facts about the wine industry with a touch of art history to make a compelling mystery. The translator is to be commended for providing the flawless translation to English from the original French.”
  • 5-star Amazon review: “This tale of foul play in the French winemaker’s world sucked me right in! Rich in fascinating detail, loaded with intrigue, and beautifully translated into English, the book comes highly recommended by – believe it or not – a beer drinker from Florida!”
  • 4-star Amazon review: ”Wine and a mystery – parfait!”
  • 5-star Amazon review: ”I enjoyed this book tremendously; especially the wine info. I am looking forward to the rest of the books in this series.”
  • Review of Treachery in Bordeaux from Bless Your Hearts Mom: “I started with this ebook by accident, and after I had started it, didn’t want to put it down! In fact I finished it in one sitting! I learned SO much about wine making and the chemistry involved! But more than that is was a good little mystery- nothing wasted, and I still wasn’t sure totally who was behind the mystery til the end! Always a good thing! The book would be perfect for a book club to have a ‘wine’ night… As always, Anne’s translations are superb and you don’t realize you are reading a translated book.”
  • Review by Kate Eileen Shannon at Rantin’, Ravin’ and Reading: “…a wonderful translation… wonderful descriptions of the art, architecture, history and landscape of the Bordeaux region…The shoes are John Lobb, the cigars are Cuban, and the wine is ‘classic’. As is this book.”
  • Review at The Butler Did It: “This book combines a fairly simple mystery with the rich feel of the French winemaking industry.  The descriptions of the wine and the food are mouth-watering!” Click to read the whole review.
Related blog posts


The book

Treachery in Bordeaux

by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen; translated by Anne Trager—e-book $5.95; trade paperback $12.95—published by Le French Book—ISBN: 978-0-9853206-2-1 (Kindle)/ 978-0-9853206-3-8 (epub) /978-1-939474-02-5 (trade paperback)—First published in French (Mission à Haut-Brion, Librairie Arthème Fayard, Paris)—Direct-to-digital translation available; trade paperback release: May 29, 2014


Press releases

For full media kit: click here