A Toast to Drops of God: The New World

Last we saw the two rivals, they had just found the Second of the Twelve Apostles, that is, the twelve wines that wine critic Yutaka Kanzaki had left for them to figure out in his will. This volume moves ahead to Shizuku and Issei’s search for the Seventh Apostle, a wine that they both believe would be located in the New World, that is, in a country outside the traditional wine-producing areas of Europe.

Warning: unmarked spoilers after this point.

I admit, it was a little tricky in the beginning to figure out what has happened in the gap between the previous volume and this one, which corresponds to volumes 23-24 in the series. It appears that Issei had lost out to Shizuku as to the identity of the Sixth Apostle, so now he has decided to change tactics and actually go and visit the area where he believes the Seventh Apostle originates from. That was such a difference from his previous eccentric methods of discerning the wine, such as meditating in a temple or going on a desert journey.

Issei must’ve mellowed a bit, since he actually brings Loulan along as a sounding board in his search for the Seventh Apostle. They fly to the US, right into Napa Valley to take the Napa Valley Wine train, which is something that I’ve wanted to try myself.  Imagine taking  a leisurely three-hour train ride through the entire village of Napa, passing through the various wineries, enjoying the scenery while sampling the best wines produced in the area. Loulan was so lucky! Issei could be such an arrogant bastard, but with his wine expertise and seemingly bottomless wallet, maybe it wouldn’t be so unpleasant to spend three hours with him and the best Napa wines.

It’s also somewhat interesting that Shizuku’s knowledge in wine is still on a novice level. When his co-workers surmised that the description of the Seventh Apostle suggested that it was a New World wine, Shizuku even queried them what that meant. It’s not as if he has been drinking only French wine all this time; he mentions that he’s had a Chilean and New Zealand wine, did nobody think of explaining that to him back then?

Shizuku’s own quest takes him to the Barossa Valley of Australia, where he and Shinohara meet up with a Taiyo Beer colleague, Nadia Simon, who acts as their guide to the world of Australian wines. Shizuku follows a hunch that the Seventh Apostle would be Australian, and finds out that even his own father found himself in the same area fifteen years ago, working amongst the same group of people that Shizuku himself met.

While it was interesting to learn about the intricacies of Australian wine, I thought the eco-community side plot was a distracting tactic for explaining why Nadia’s father hated the Japanese. And Shizuku’s nose leading them to the cause of the fire? Hilarious. I guess the dog analogy had to end up being useful somehow.

Vertical has hinted that this may be the last volume that they would publish in this series. To say that I’m disappointed would be an understatement. When I heard that they had licensed this series for English publication, I took out my wallet and bought each volume as they were published. For years, I’ve almost stopped buying manga altogether but this title was one that I knew that I needed to support and one that I actually wanted to own. I can’t say that my wine-drinking habits have improved because of it, but I certainly don’t feel as dumb anymore when I walk into a wine shop and read all these descriptions that used to mean nothing to me. It sounds silly to attribute my oenological interest to a manga, but a comic is far more approachable than any textbook when it comes to such a dense subject such as wine.

Cheers to you, Shizuku. I hope that we will meet again someday.