Authors of international best-selling Manga phenomenon, The Drops of God, have been awarded Asian Wine Personality of the year for their significant contribution to the fine wine industry.
Shin and Yuko Kibayashi have been credited with igniting a passion for fine wine both among young Japanese readers and across the globe, with their 44-volume weekly Manga series following the story of a budding wine critic and his quest to gain ownership of his recently deceased father’s extensive wine collection.
A quest for fine and rare wines
The protagonist of the story, Kanzaki Shizuku, competes against his estranged father’s adopted son in a race to identify and describe the thirteen wines written into his will – the Twelve Apostles and The Drops of God.
The father was a world-renowned wine critic and, although Kanzaki had rebelled against his rule and joined a beer company, he has inherited an intuitive sense of smell, taste and perception that enables him to judge a wine even before it has been opened.
Fuelled by knowledge gained from childhood experiences with his father, and helped by his trainee sommelier friend, Kanzaki joins the wine department of the beverages company and sets about defeating his adopted brother Issei.
Fine wine marketing from heaven
Within a year of the cartoon’s publication, wine sales jumped 130% in Japan, and 150% in Korea. After an early issue mentioning the lesser known Château Mont-Pérat came out, a Taiwanese importer sold 50 cases of the wine in two days.
As the story unfolded and the thirteen wines were revealed, Asian demand for the bottles skyrocketed to such an extent that the owner of Château le Puy, Jean-Pierre Amoreau, decided to cease international sales of their 2003 vintage to make sure the wine remained accessible to the average buyer.
The series began in 2004 and ended in 2014, and has been translated into more than five languages including English and French. In the 2009 Decanter “Power List” of influential individuals within the wine industry, Shin and Yuko Kibayashi were placed at number 50, and the work was described as “arguably the most influential wine publication for the past 20 years”.
Wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy and beyond
The Twelve Apostles, all of which have benefited from heightened publicity following the publication of the cartoon tale, are:
- 2001 Georges Roumier Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses
- 1999 Château Palmer
- 2000 Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée da Capo
- 1994 Château Lafleur
- 2000 Michel Colin-Deléger Chevalier-Montrachet
- 2001 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis
- 2003 Sine Qua Non The Inaugural (Eleven Confessions) Syrah Central Coast AVA
- Jacques Selosse Cuvée Exquise NV
- 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio di Sotto
- 2002 Grands Échezeaux Grand cru Robert Sirugue
- 2008 Ferrer Bobet “Seleccio Especial,” Priorat, Spain
- 2003 Château le Puy
For ‘The Drops of God’ – the thirteenth and final mystery wine – you’ll have to read the story!