I’m a bit upset I hadn’t heard about this last November when it went on sale.
Look at the playing board for this new French wine edition of Monopoly:
How fun is this? One simply must know immediately which vineyards occupy Boardwalk and Park Place squares, and which are the lowly beginner squares.
That’s where the fun begins. Woefully undervalued, struggling Muscadet in the starting blocks? Absolutely, makes sense.
But, Corton Charlemagne as the highest echelon of wine, aka Boardwalk? We need to talk. And things just get worse once you scrutinize regions in between.
Take heed, folks: Côtes de Provence, the Jura and Jurançon are each worth more than Bordeaux. Oh, and Margaux is distinct from Bordeaux.
Exactly who cooked up this valuation hierarchy? Hasbro leveraged a ‘famous’ professional wine magazine La Vigne, part of the France Agricole family of magazines. France Agricole has a wildly esoteric range of farming magazines, specializing in dairy farming, vegetable farming, tractor talk, and food factories, which remind me of Matt Groening’s impossibly specialized satirical magazine covers from the 80s.
Obviously Hasbro wasn’t bringing the big guns to the table in terms of wine valuation data, so you’d think that thanks to the experts at La Vigne, the hierarchy might be a little less wacky. There are likely some demographic considerations in play here; each major region of France needs to be able to identify with the regions listed to feel in any way implicated in the gameplay (and thus ensure game sales). And I can already imagine La Vigne magazine’s retort: ‘We had to use regions which read well in the average French consumer’s mind. Le Montrachet or Romanée Conti don’t read as well as Corton Charlemagne … ’
But the Jura does? And who in France doesn’t know of Sauternes; yet, instead we have the Jurançon? Curious choices.
La Vigne magazine claims it was their editors who’d based the hierarchy on this 2012 French government report, but good luck identifying any stable correlation between this data and the game board. Someone made a rather hasty, arbitrary set of decisions regarding which data points in the report to use for each region and which to exclude1.
Quick, go get your heart medication, because here is Hasbro’s description of game play:
‘Take risks, invest, develop your inheritance, and become the most entreprenurial winegrower! Burgundy, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Languedoc, the Loire Valley, the Rhône, Provence… choose either the most prestigious vineyards, or simply those that are dear to you. Then, invest in wine warehouses and cellars to transform your grapes, glean the most perfect aromas from them, produce and sell the most amazing wines. You’ll need quick reflexes and be ready to take risks to become the winning winemaker!’
Basically, compared with normal Monopoly, buying a deed becomes fermage (renting vines); houses become warehouses; hotels become cellars. Railroads become international wine salons, and utilities are a bit odd, as they become wine juries, brokers, and AOC boards. That’s about it.
I would’ve been happy to purchase this game for shits and giggles, even if, as Claire Adamson astutely notes in her earlier article, Monopoly tends to bring out the worst in people. It also takes almost as long to finish as Risk, with a similarly enraging, hour-long slow decline into failure. But for 50 Euros, geez: those are some expensive shits and giggles. I think I’d rather drink a stellar Burgundy and scoff at the game board instead.
If you have a contact in France that’s willing to purchase, then ship, or — God forbid — battle to pack this box in their luggage to then bring it to you, here’s where they can buy it.
Honestly, if you speak French and want a fun wine board game, I’d much rather play Trivial Pursuit Édition des Vins with you, racing to fill my game piece with all six camemberts (yes, that’s what the French call the plastic category wedges. Could there be anything more adorably French in this world).
But anything, ANYTHING besides what looks like the most tedious French wine board game of all below: its admittedly noble goal is to teach the intricacies of viticulture, but one look at the game board and I want to run for the hills:
If you’re one of these people that still finds time for board games and speak French, save for this new Monopoly variant, here’s what appears to be a definitive list of French wine games.
Meanwhile, I’ll just keep playing this free, internet-based French wine geography quiz game.
- When they write Chablis they merely mean village Chablis. There is no mention of Corton Charlemagne, only a ‘Grand Cru’ Burgundy data point. Bordeaux is simply one data point regarding entry-level reds instead of a weighted combination of all the composing parts of Bordeaux; the same holds true for a number of regions. No data is provided for Côtes de Gascogne. [↩]