‘Game of Thrones’ Bordeaux Winemaker Battles HBO (Sort Of)

We talked to the St.-Emilion vintner behind the real-life Dornish Wine about his unexpected newfound fame, his GoT drinking rituals and hopes for the rest of the season
‘Game of Thrones’ Bordeaux Winemaker Battles HBO (Sort Of)
As far as we know, Thibault Bardet was not subjected to the Cersei "Shame!" treatment for making his fan wines. (HBO/Photofest)
May 5, 2019

When we last checked in with Thibault Bardet, he was happily, and relatively quietly, working on his pet project: making wines inspired by his and everyone’s favorite TV series, Game of Thrones. But now, as we're smack in the middle of the final season of the HBO show, the young Bordeaux vintner’s two cuvées, Dornish Wine Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux Red 2016 and the Imp's Delight St.-Emilion Red 2016, are getting far more attention than his small family operation would have ever imagined—thanks, in large part, he says, to certain wine publications writing articles about them. (Sorry, Thibault!)

"I have had lots of press articles, all of which is very exciting for me," Bardet told Unfiltered when we caught up with his this week. "In France, it is exponential—more and more and more. Next week I have a radio speech."

One call he was not hoping to get, however, came from the bigwigs at HBO, asking him to stop making the wines, likely because the network already has its own line of branded wine for the series.

But, unlike the rest of the season, it doesn't look like this battle is going to get especially bloody. "They contacted me and said, 'OK, we can see that you are a fan, so we are thankful … but we want you to stop your production,'" Bardet said. "I asked them, 'Oh, but can I be a license?' But they were not interested, and I can understand, because it is the last season."

However, HBO has allowed Bardet to continue selling the remaining 15,000 bottles he has already made. "I am very, very happy and thankful to them to let me sell my work," he said.

The wines are Merlot-based bottlings from grapes grown on sandy soils in a warm vintage, to mimic the fictional terroir of the peninsula of Dorne as described in the George R.R. Martin books, and they’re only being sold within Europe. But Bardet and his family have been fielding requests for the GoT wines from all over the world—Argentina, Brazil, as far away as Malaysia.

Bardet's immediate concern though, naturally, is white-knuckling through the remaining few weeks of Game of Thrones like any other superfan. "For us, in France, it comes on at 3 a.m.," he said. "But later on Monday, I go with between five and 10 people, and we will drink some bottles of the Dornish wine and the Imp's Delight. Every Monday, I'm so excited, I'm pretty sure I'm very bad at my work, just thinking about the show!"

As for the rest of the series, Bardet said he’s hoping to see more wine-drinking before the season finale so he and his fellow Thrones frères can partake in their traditions: "When people drink [in the show], we drink too," he said. "And every time, we sing the beginning together: 'Dunn dun, dun dun dunn dun …'"


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