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Happy dance! Blood of the Vine is back, and the new season — the show’s final one — kicks off with an intricate murder mystery story set in Bandol, France.

Blood of the Vine
Blood of the Vine: Pierre Arditi as Benjamin Lebel — Photo courtesy of MHz Choice

Watching the Season 5 opener of Blood of the Vine (Le sang de la vigne) was like meeting up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few years: I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I reconnected with it.

The French mystery series, based on the popular novels in the “Winemaker Detective Series” by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, has been a favorite of mine and beaucoup stateside Euro TV fans since MHz Networks began airing it back in 2013, so its return is more than welcome, especially since it’s been more than four years since Season 4 debuted here. It’s bittersweet, too, as the show’s fifth season is also its final one. But before we bid it adieu, we have seven new episodes to savor, starting with “A Rosé That Packs a Punch” (“Un coup de rosé bien frappé”).

The titular rosé is the wine produced at Treille Lavande, a 25-acre wine estate located in the Sainte-Baume mountains of Provence. It’s owned by Angèle Marcarol (Lio, Jealousy) — but not for long, if she gets her way. Angèle intends to donate Treille Lavande to the monastery of Saint-Sauveur, which is why she’s at the notary’s office in Bandol. But before the notary can finish reviewing the deed for her to sign, he collapses to the floor.

Meanwhile, internationally-renowned wine expert Benjamin Lebel (Pierre Arditi, Captain Marleau) is in Bandol to meet with Jérémie Casenove (Pierre Cassignard, Maigret), a wealthy investor. Word is out about Angèle’s planned gift to the monastery, so Jérémie wants Benjamin to persuade her to sell Treille Lavande to him, as he has promised the winery as a gift to his pregnant fiancée, Manon (Sophie de Fürst, Profilage).

This isn’t the type of issue that Benjamin is typically consulted for, yet he nonetheless agrees. It’s too intriguing not to, as he’s quite familiar with Treille Lavande: It was well known for its remarkable red wine before the switch to rosé. (The check from Jérémie with four zeroes after whatever number Benjamin puts in front of them can’t possibly hurt.)

What Benjamin learns from a monk at Saint-Sauveur deepens the mystery as to why Angèle prefers donating Treille Lavande instead of selling it. And while he, with help from wealth manager Loewen (Aladin Reibel, Murder in Cornouaille), delves further into the backstories of the people connected to the estate (and to each other), Angèle and her partner, estate manager Justin Rigaud (Patrick Le Mauff, Mateo Falcone), are being threatened.

And others are being murdered.

Again the question is, why?

Like other stories in Blood of the Vine, “A Rosé That Packs a Punch” is a well-crafted whodunit, one in which blood proves to be thicker than water and wine, a scandal casts a decades-long shadow, and innocent people are both collateral damage and hindrances that must be gotten rid of in a wicked plot. The scenery of the Bandol area is likewise as gorgeous as the wine regions we’ve seen in earlier episodes.

At the center of it all is Benjamin Lebel, charming and inquisitive as ever. (Pierre Arditi must have such fun playing this guy.) And his street cred as a sleuth is growing, as evidenced by a former reality TV celeb who intends to play Lebel in a TV series about the crime-solving oenologist (should the idea ever get off the ground).

Viewers can count on Blood of the Vine to deliver a solid murder mystery story in each episode, and this one — which features Edouard Collin (Plus belle la vie), Nicolas Bridet (Spin), Alban Casterman (Spiral), and Camille Aguilar (Black Spot) — is no exception.

The thoroughly enjoyable “Blood of the Vine: A Rosé That Packs a Punch” is now available for streaming in the US on MHz Choice and its digital channels, including MHz Choice on Amazon Channels. New episodes will debut on Mondays through January 12, 2021.


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Euro TV to Watch: Intricate Opener to Final Season of Hit French Mystery ‘Blood of the Vine’