Is Roussillon home to the ‘real’ Dornish wine from Game of Thrones?

A Bordeaux based winemaker and fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones has created his own version of ‘Dornish wine’ from the blockbuster franchise – but are the vins doux naturels of Roussillon already the perfect option?

Thibault Bardet from Vignobles Bardet in Saint Emilion had apparently long been thinking of making a wine from the series that is regularly seen being drunk by key characters such as Cersei and Tyrion Lannister – especially the latter.

The result was two wines; ‘Dornish Wine’ made from vineyards in Castillon and ‘Imp’s Delight’ (a reference to the nickname of Tryion Lannister) from vines in St Emilion.

Both wines are 100% Merlot and the Imp’s Delight also has zero added sulphites.

Bardet told local news agencies he had scoured the books for references to the wine for inspiration and amassed notes covering “40 pages” in total.

Packaged with Game of Thrones inspired imagery – a golden lion on a shield – the wine looks as though it will be a short-lived endeavour – not unlike many of the show’s characters.

HBO has reportedly issued a challenge as it already has its own official wine supplier but Bardet will be allowed to sell the remaining stock and even hopes to send some to author George RR Martin and the show’s main actors.

The Dornish wine is still available for €17 a bottle.

For anyone else looking to get their hands on something akin to ‘Dornish wine’ as they settle in for the last episodes of what has been a seminal television phenomenon, Martin in the books refers to it as “dark as blood and sweet as vengeance”, produced from the hot, arid southern lands of the isle of Westeros.

Not Dorne or King’s Landing but the harbour at Collioure (also with hilltop castle) close to where Banyuls is made.

To us Thrones fans at db we can think of several rather good stand-ins for Dornish wine based on that description – namely the sweet red wines from the south of France Maury and Banyuls.

The predominantly Grenache-based vins doux naturels from the Roussillon region are dark (as blood), sweet (as vengeance), delicious (like, um, more vengeance) and (as with most sweet wines) hugely underrated.

In the medieval world too – upon which the setting of Game of Thrones draws a huge amount of its inspiration – sweet wines from Greece and Italy were the most expensive and highly-prized of all making the naturally sweet red wines of Roussillon an even better fit for those seeking to emulate the noble Westerosi houses.

Banyuls is produced near the sea by the lovely town of Collioure, while Maury is produced a little further inland from vineyards overlooked by a crumbling Cathar castle perched atop a mountainous peak.

With Dorne and King’s Landing – two of the show’s principal locations – being closely associated with clear, azure waters and crumbling castles being two-a-penny in the Game of Thrones universe, just how much more perfect can you get?

Vineyards in Maury with the castle of Queribus in the middle of the ridge in the far distance

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