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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

December 31, 2012

Meet the Authors: Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen

“To start to New Year off well, you need to finish the previous one well.”

The holidays are an interesting time for novelists, Santa Claus being the most clearly identified fictional character in the world. Will our own heroes, Benjamin Cooker and his assistant Virgile, be there for our New Year eve’s party? It is hard to imagine our lives without these characters we gave birth to ten years ago. They have, in fact, caught up with us. The twenty-first book in the adventures of our famous winemaker is currently in the making, aging like a fine wine before the book launch next spring in France. What I can say for now is that they will be investigating in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a famous wine region not far from Avignon.

This will be my first holiday season in the château that I bought last summer in the heart of the Lot Valley in southwestern France. It dates from the twelfth century, overlooks the vineyards of Cahors and belonged to the city’s bishop during the Middle Ages. We will have fires in the large fireplaces, with crackling logs of oak, a tree that is very abundant in the Quercy region. But above all, our New Year’s celebration will be an opportunity to drink some fine bottles of wine.

We will have Champagne, of course, and not just any Champagne. It will be Deutz. For the red wine, when the clock strikes twelve, I will pour some Angélus, a Saint Emilion grand cru from my friend Hubert de Bouärd (keep your eyes out for an upcoming English translation of one of the series, whose mystery focuses on Angélus). Between the two, I will honor my own region with a Réserve Caillau from the Château de Gaudou, where Fabrice Durou has all of Virgile’s genius and every year makes a remarkable Cahors wine.

After this feast, we will relax with a Cuban cigar (most likely a D4 from Partagas) and Armagnac from the Château du Prada that my long-time friend Philippe de Bouglon has so attentively bottled. To start to New Year off well, you need to finish the previous one well. Noël and I clearly share the Cooker Attitude. It’s a reason for living, or better yet, a reason for being. As Winston Churchill said, “I am easily satisfied with the very best.”
~ Jean-Pierre Alaux

Note from Noël: For me, the New Year’s celebration will not have the usual flavor and meaning. Sometimes there are events in a writer’s life that take him away from his imagination, from the world and the characters he has built. Exceptionally, there will be no wine on our holiday table. I will refrain, in solidarity with my wife, who is expecting a child for spring. This is a small sacrifice considering the happiness that awaits us.

For New Year’s Eve, I will be with my family and we will pray for the parents who have lost their children, for the courage of the teachers who gave their lives, for a country wounded by such brutality. That God protect the children of this world.

About the Authors:


Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen are two French authors who wrote Treachery in Bordeaux together (, which was recently published in English by Le French Book ( This book launched the Winemaker Detective series, which now has 20 titles in French. They are Epicures. Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and the grandson of a winemaker. Noël Balen lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music.

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