I heard about this New York Times best-selling comic book from a friend who said he loves learning about wine from this Japanese series.
“What I’m really jazzed about is the running commentary on wine that reads like poetry,” Roger Hanelt said. “There’s also some serious talk about the quality of the wines. One character will sniff a French wine and his innate talent will let him know what soil the grapes were grown on – lime or calcium – and what part of France.”
In a nutshell, here’s the plot: Two men are competing for a fortune left in the will of the late wine critic Kanzaki Yutaka, who owned a vast and famous wine collection. The two men are his biological son (Kanzaki Shizuku) and the man he apparently recently adopted as his other son (Toomine Issei). Shizuku works at a Japanese beverages company with beer as its staple. Issei, on the other hand is a renowned young wine critic. To claim the will each has to correctly identify and describe thirteen wines, the first twelve known as the “Twelve Apostles” and the thirteenth known as the “Drops of God.”
Hanelt said he’s taken by the “bliss” factor.
“Issei (the young wine critic) will sip a wine and it will carry him away into a state of bliss,” Hanelt said. “Sometimes food will do this. Sometimes music will do this. But here a sip of wine will turn that moment into a state of bliss.
A state of bliss? Nirvana? It’s the best sales pitch one could ever hear so I decided to pick up a copy. When I talked with Neal Rogers of Santa Rosa’s Barnes and Noble Santa on Fourth St., he said “Manga” – Japanese comic books like these – are incredibly popular.
“We have racks and racks of them,” he said.
These comic books, read from right to left, cover a range of topics from legends to love stories. In Japan they appeal to people of all ages but in America, they’re most popular with teenagers and people in their twenties and they buy them as collector items.
Rogers said he wasn’t familiar with “The Drops of God” and, in fact, this was the first time he sold it.
I just started reading it and I’m not taken by the artwork, and the so-called poetry seems over the top. But I’m enjoying the way it weaves wine knowledge into the commentary, and it’s particularly fun to read about our Wine Country, from the Carneros to Oakville to the Russian River Valley and the great wines from those regions.
I kept thinking Leonard, Sheldon and the gang on the T.V. series Big Bang would love this series because they’re such crazy comic book fans. In fact, “The Drops of God” seems like Big Bang meets wine geek.