French winemaker Thibault Bardet is such a fan of Game of Thrones that he decided to make a wine as close as possible to what he imagined the Dorne kingdom, in the far south of the fictional continent of Westeros, might produce.
Since 2016, he has taken Merlot grapes from his vineyards in Bordeaux to create The Imp's Delight and Dornish Wine, two full-bodied reds made in honour of Tyrion Lannister, one of most popular characters in the hit HBO series and a keen drinker.
"It would be cool to be able to taste the real wine of Dorne," Bardet recalled telling his flatmate in Vignonet, a village south of Saint-Emilion, in the heart of the famed wine-growing region, while watching the show.
Bardet spent hours trawling the books of George R. R. Martin and studying maps of the fantasy land where the epic takes place, trying to imagine what sort of wine its climate might produce. The wine of Dorne, a sunny region, is described in the books to be of the highest quality.
"I knew it was important that it should have lots of spice flavours," said Bardet, who hails from a family of winemakers. "It's an intense colour, like dark blood. It's fruity, strong and full-bodied, yet very drinkable."
Bardet, whose Imp's Delight has earned 3.7 out of 5 stars on some wine websites, said his dream was to have his creation tasted by Martin and ask him what he thinks of it.
But after producing some 30,000 bottles of wine – one with a black and gold label featuring two lions' heads that references the Lannisters' fictional coat-of-arms – Bardet has received a kindly worded letter from HBO asking him to stop.
"It's true that I kind of used the code of their universe," said Bardet, adding that he was happy to comply with HBO's letter – which said he was fine to sell his existing stock as long as he doesn't go on making the wine.
Representatives of HBO were not immediately reachable for comment.