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Manga cartoon drives wine off shelves

A mention of a wine on a Japanese cartoon show has caused such a rush in demand the producer has withdrawn the vintage in question from shelves around the world.

Château le Puy 2003 was name-dropped in a cartoon show that is a spin-off from The Drops of God, a hugely successful manga comic strip centred around wine.

The winemaker at the Right Bank property in the Côte de Francs, Jean-Pierre Amoreau, was at first “very happy and surprised” with the increased demand for the 2003 vintage.

The day after the cartoon’s airing Amoreau had 150 orders for the wine and some Japanese drinkers even travelled all the way to France to track it down.

When his Tokyo agent explained to him sales were being driven due the popularity of the show, he stepped in and withdrew the wine from circulation.

He explained to a French radio station that he wanted to "avoid speculation because we wanted this wine, which had been chosen as a mythical wine, to remain within reach of everyone.”

He said he did not want the wine to become the sole preserve of those who buy luxury wine. He will retain the rest of the stock to sell to those he considers genuine connoisseurs and the price has been raised from €15.50 to €18.

The Drops of God phenomenon has gripped Asia and increasingly the West since its publication in 2004.

The story centres on two brothers scouring the world to track down 12 exemplary wines, which will give them access to their late father’s million-dollar cellar.

Any wines named in connection with the series usually see a sharp increase in interest. When the final wine is announced several years from now in the last installment, it remains to be seen if the producer will be as scrupulous as Amoreau in keeping that wine available to all.

Rupert Millar, 29.09.2010

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