The Vintage Caper : Sam Levitt Series, Book 1
by Peter Mayle and Erik Davies

Overview - Set in Hollywood, Paris, Bordeaux, and Marseille, Peter Mayle’s newest and most delightful novel is filled with culinary delights, sumptuous wines, and colorful characters. It’s also a lot of fun.

The story begins high above Los Angeles, at the extravagant home and equally impressive wine cellar of entertainment lawyer Danny Roth.


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More About The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle; Erik Davies

Set in Hollywood, Paris, Bordeaux, and Marseille, Peter Mayle’s newest and most delightful novel is filled with culinary delights, sumptuous wines, and colorful characters. It’s also a lot of fun.

The story begins high above Los Angeles, at the extravagant home and equally impressive wine cellar of entertainment lawyer Danny Roth. Unfortunately, after inviting the Los Angeles Times to write an extensive profile extolling the liquid treasures of his collection, Roth finds himself the victim of a world-class wine heist.

Enter Sam Levitt, former corporate lawyer, cultivated crime expert, and wine connoisseur. Called in by Roth’s insurance company, which is now saddled with a multimillion-dollar claim, Sam follows his leads—to Bordeaux and its magnificent vineyards, and to Provence to meet an eccentric billionaire collector who might possibly have an interest in the stolen wines. Along the way, bien sûr, he is joined by a beautiful and erudite French colleague, and together they navigate many a château, pausing frequently to enjoy the countryside’s abundant pleasures.

The unraveling of the ingenious crime is threaded through with Mayle’s seductive rendering of France’s sensory delights—from a fine Lynch-Bages and Léoville Barton to the bouillabaisse of Marseille and the young lamb of Bordeaux. Even the most sophisticated of oenophiles will learn a thing or two from this vintage work by a beloved author.

From the Hardcover edition.

  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
  • Date: Oct 2009

From the book


Danny Roth took a final dab of moisturizer and massaged it into his already gleaming cranium, while checking to make sure that his scalp was innocent of any trace of stubble. Some time ago, when skin had first begun to take over from hair, he had toyed with the possibilities of a ponytail, often the first refuge of the balding man. But his wife Michelle had been less than enthusiastic. "Just remember, Danny," she had said, "underneath every ponytail is a horse's ass." That had persuaded him to embrace the billiard-ball look, and he had since been gratified to find himself in the company of several stars, their bodyguards, and assorted hangers-on.

Peering into the mirror, he studied the lobe of his left ear. He was still of two minds about an earring: a dollar sign in gold, perhaps, or a platinum shark's tooth. Either would be appropriate for his profession, but were they rugged enough? Tough decision. It would have to wait.

Stepping away from the mirror, he padded into his dressing room to choose his outfit for the day, something that would take him through a morning of client meetings, lunch at the Ivy, and a private screening in the evening. Something conservative (he was, after all, a lawyer) but with a devil-may-care touch of informality--he was, after all, an entertainment lawyer.

A few minutes later, dressed in a dark-gray suit of superfine worsted, a white open-neck silk shirt, Gucci loafers, and socks of buttercup yellow, he picked up his BlackBerry from the bedside table, blew an air kiss in the general direction of his sleeping wife, and went downstairs to the granite and stainless steel splendors of the kitchen. A pot of fresh coffee and Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and the L.A. Times, provided by the maid, had been placed on the kitchen counter. The early-morning sun was up, promising another glorious day. The world was as it should be for a member of Hollywood's professional elite.

Roth could hardly complain at the hand life had dealt him. He had a young, blond, fashionably gaunt wife; a thriving business; a pied-à-terre in New York; a ski lodge in Aspen; and--the house that he considered his headquarters--a three-story steel-and-glass pile in the gated, high-security community of Hollywood Heights. It was here that he kept his treasures.

Like many of his contemporaries, he had accumulated a selection of socially impressive accessories. There were diamonds and closets full of status clothing for his wife; three Warhols and a Basquiat for his living room walls; a strolling Giacometti for his terrace; and a perfectly restored gull- wing Mercedes for his garage. But his favorite indulgence--and, in a sense, the cause of some frustration--was his wine collection.

It had taken many years and a great deal of money to put together what was, so Roth had been told by none other than Jean-Luc, his wine consultant, one of the best private cellars in town. Perhaps the best. There were the top-level Californian reds and a wide selection of the most distinguished white Burgundies. There were even three entire cases of the magnificent '75 Yquem. But the crown jewels of the collection--and the source, understandably, of great pride--were the five hundred or so bottles of premier cru claret from Bordeaux. Not only were they first-growth; they were also from the great vintages. The '53 Lafite Rothschild, the '61 Latour, the '83 Margaux, the '82 Figeac, the '70 Pétrus--these were stored in a cellar beneath the house and kept permanently at 56 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit, with an 80 percent humidity level. Roth added to them from time to time, when the odd case came on the market, but...


"Peter Mayle . . . has been celebrating the pleasures of Provence in seductive prose since the mega-bestselling A Year in Provence . . . This tradition flourishes anew in his latest Provençal picaresque, The Vintage Caper . . . The [novel's] trail leads--naturellement!--through a succession of excellent repasts and leisurely ambles, which Mayle depicts with painterly ease and signature savoir vivre . . . The wine case has enough twists and turns to propel the plot along, but the star of this caper is the vineyard-veined, lavender-scented, sun-showered, garlic-seasoned setting itself: pure Provence." -
-Don George, National Geographic Traveler (Book of the Month)

"Meals are lovingly described, scenery comes to life, paragraphs take long floral detours. And everyone is blessed with hypersensitive taste buds . . . By the time Levitt returns to America, readers will have learned much about the history of winemaking, the key wine regions, various auction houses, critics and books--and even how to lift fingerprints from bottles." -
-James Oliver Curry, The New York Times Book Review

"Wine and food aficionados will find much to savor in The Vintage Caper . . . The Vintage Caper is light, funny, and packed with a menu's worth of scrumptious descriptions of exceptional dinners and drinks." -
-Carol Memmott, USA Today

"A trip to France for 25 dollars? No, it's not a super-discount on Air France, it's a book, another Peter Mayle flight of fancy . . . It's a smooth ride you'll enjoy from beginning to end . . . Peter Mayle's love of France is infectious." -
-John Greenya, The Washington Post

"This novel provides a delightful behind-the-scenes tour of France and its wines, a satisfyingly satirical view of materialistic excesses in America, a mystery that keeps the reader guessing, and a pleasing, robust finish." -
-Scotia W. MacRae, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Relentlessly entertaining . . . Peter Mayle has concocted a shameless guilty-pleasure bonbon in The Vintage Caper." -
-Raleigh News-Observer

"Mayle's prose bubbles with the pertness of champagne and teems with sumptuous delights . . . His story has as many unexpected twists as the wending streets of France that are featured throughout the novel, making this one countryside romp that will both thrill and transport oenophiles and armchair travelers alike." -
-Cathy Shouse, Bookpage

"Mayle uncorks a winning wine caper . . . The pleasures of this very French adventure--and there are many--aren't in the resolution . . . but in the pleasant stroll through the provinces and in the glasses of wine downed and decadent meals consumed." -
-Publishers Weekly

"Mayle delivers . . . good, clean writing; a sophisticated and mouthwatering use of good and wine as the story's upholstery; and a quick yet captivating plot, well sprinkled with humor. This novel is a special invitation for newbies to begin appreciating Mayle's talent as a writer." -

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