Monday, March 12, 2012


"It's powerful, but I also felt a melting sweepness and a sharp rush of sourness. Just as the soft, husky vocals of Queen are wrapped in deep guitar sounds and heavy drums. It seems somehow like classical, but it isn't. It's something modern - yeah, it's Queen all right."

I usually come across descriptives like "floral" or "vibrant" or other nice sounding words that don't quite help anyone when reading about wines, but it's only Drops of God that drew analogies between a 2011 Chateau Mont-Perat and Queen.

The manga - part of a subset of garume (or 'gourmet') manga, written by the brother-sister team known as Tadashi Agi, and illustrated by Shu Okimoto - follows Shizuku, the estranged son of Yutaka, a famous Japanese wine critic who has left a wine collection in his estate worth millions. When he passes, an up-and-coming wine snob (who somehow got Yutaka to adopt him right beforehand) challenges Shizuku for the bounty: the winner must correctly identify 13 wines that Yutaka has chosen, dubbed the "Drops of God."

While it might seem like just another crazy bit of Japanese pop culture, Drops of God has had more impact on wine sales than anyone could've ever guessed a comic book would have, increasing and influencing Asian wine sales dramatically (Decanter magazine called it "arguably the most influential wine publication for the past 20 years"). Wine sales in Japan jumped 130% in the first year of the manga's printing; in Korea, 150%. The owners of Chateau Mont-Perat, that Bohemian Rhapsody of all wines, had to unplug their phone from ringing off the hook after being featured in the book. In Taiwan, dozens of cases of wines featured in the book were sold out in mere days.

One winery wasn't too pumped about the increased exposure. After the 2003 Chateau le Puy was featured in Drops of God, orders went through the roof:

Château le Puy owner Jean-Pierre Amoreau’s response to this fame, in an era of Bordeaux primeur “wine futures” speculation, is amazing. Recently he announced that he was ceasing international sales of his 2003 vintage in order to deter speculation and to retain a small stock for his loyal customers. Even this did not stop two Japanese tourists who traveled from Paris to knock on the château door to ask if they could purchase two bottles.

Volumes of Drops of God have been released by Vertical in English translations over the past year. Pick it up and drop "Under Pressure" while you kick back some vino.

the clutterer Web Developer