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'The Drops of God' comes to America; will wine ever be the same?

November 05, 2012|By Russ Parsons
(Vertical Publishing )

When last we visited “The Drops of God,” the totally addicting wine manga, the two protagonists were just beginning their battle to decide who would be the emperor of wine. In one corner, ingenue Kanzaki Shizuku, the son of Japan’s most legendary wine writer who had forsaken his birthright and gone to work in, gasp, a beer distributorship! In the other, Tomine Issei, a darkly handsome, gifted young wine critic with troublesome values.

To decide the winner, the two have to parse Kanzaki’s father’s clues and identify a series of wines. The clues, which read something like Robert Parker crossed with Kahlil Gibran, have sent them all over Europe in search of fabulous wines and, of course, valuable life lessons.

Tied after six volumes, in the seventh they head to the New World – Australia and the Napa Valley. There are lots of fun name-checks of popular wineries and even a little bit of analysis. In one long Wine Train ride, Tomine treats his comely assistant/possible girlfriend with a Kistler “Cuvee Cathleen” Chardonnay, a Clos Pegasse “Mitsuka’s Vineyard” Chardonnay, an Etude Pinot Noir, a Stag’s Leap “Cask 23” Cabernet, Opus One, Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle cult Cabs, Mondavi “Heritage Collection” Cab, Caymus “Special Selection” Cab, and finally a 1999 Beringer “Private Reserve” Cab.  

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s more than $4,000 at retail. But fantasy is like that, right? And, of course, this being a Japanese story about America, our heroes are kidnapped at gunpoint as soon as they get off the train. To balance stereotypes, Kanzaki goes to Australia where he meets a lot of blunt, loud-talking locals.

It’s a manga, so you know that along the way, lessons will be learned, battles will be fought, maidens will be charmed and exclamation points will be deep on the ground. Since this is a wine manga (geekiness squared!), there will also be lots of pontificating about the meaning of wine and its place in the world.

And by the time you’ve finished all 365 pages, you’ll be eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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