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Manga comics ignite interest in wine

Japanese Manga comics are driving up interest in wine – particularly Bordeaux – across Asia.

Manga comics combine elements of myth, mystery and heroism, and Kami no Shizuku – translated as The Drops of God – is a quasi-Arthurian quest saga with a twist: the hero is trying to track down 12 wines likened to Christ’s disciples.

The series, with sales of more than 500,000 copies, has proved to be an unlikely but effective ambassador for wine, with individual bottles mentioned in the stories seeing sales sky-rocket across Japan, Korea and China.

An early mention of Bordeaux producer Despagne’s Château Mont Perat 2001 led to one Taiwanese importer claiming sales of 50 cases in just two days.

Sales of Umberto Cosmo’s Colli di Conegliano Rosso also leapt 30% after being mentioned in the Manga series.

The story centres on Shizuku Kanzaki, a young man whose wine expert father dies, leaving a will describing 12 wines, which are compared to the 12 disciples.

Whoever can track the wines down will win the father’s wine collection – a quest in which Shizuku is pitted against his adoptive brother, sommelier Issey Tomine.

The books are notable for their unconventional descriptions of the wines featured. For instance, Mont Perat is likened to a concert given by the rock group Queen, with the wine’s acidity taking the place of Freddie Mercury’s vocals.

Written by Yuko Kibayashi under a pen name and with the assistance of her brother Shin, the books are scheduled to continue for another four to five years, gradually revealing the names of the 12 ‘disciple’ wines.

After securing publishing deals across Asia, Kami no Shizuku is due to be published in French during 2008. An Italian version is also being considered – and there is even a possible film deal in the pipeline.

Written by Richard Woodard

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