French Graphic Novels on the Wine Scene

With the recent success of manga becoming Asia’s ambassador for wine, such as sales of Umberto Cosmo’s Colli di Conegliano Rosso rising a stunning 30% after a mention in famous manga Kami no Shizuku or Les Goûttes des Dieux, it is no wonder how French cartoonists are finally turning to the world of wine to pen their next masterpieces.


French graphic authors are following in their Japanese counterpart’s footsteps- French cartoonist Eric Corbeyran, a famous author in his field with over 70 books to his name with bestsellers such as Le Chant des Stryges, Atavisme, and Epreuve, is leading the wave with his new publication.  Set in his native Bordeaux, Médoc is a family saga about a young American woman who inherits Château Chêne Courbe from her father, only to find it comes with a lot more than she expected; financial problems and family feuds abound in this tale.  It is a quasi-Arthurian adventure of self discovery, drama and determination- centered around the culture of fine wine.  


But don’t think that this story is simple fiction.  Research for it involved meeting with key Bordelais such as Michel Rolland, Florence and Daniel Cathiard at Smith Haut Laffite, Céline Villars-Foubet at Chasse-Spleen and negociant Allan Sichel to add verism- to show “this complex world that is a mix of passion, technical know-how and money” as Corbeyran told a local newspaper.  Comics can now be both educational and reflect the feelings and unique aspect of each Château- enhancing and encouraging the growth of wine knowledge in a media that can be more easily accessible to a layman audience.


This surge in wine comics is certainly well supported- Philippe Hauri, director of publications at publishers Glénat, which also publishes milestone manga Les Goûttes des Dieux in France,  told Decanter, “Jacques Glenat [the owner] is a lover of good wine, and he always dreamt about doing a graphic novel about wine from a French perspective.”  With this, we can see how Médoc would be revolutionary- not simply in the wine business, but also in the world.  It would provide an angle on wine- from a real French viewpoint, something that had never been done before.


However, this wave is not entirely supported- Bordeaux-based American wine merchant Jeffrey Davies commented, “It’s not funny, and it’s full of inaccuracies and errors”, and that the sources used by the publication in which he was named in written “out of spite and vengeance.  You get much the same from the comic book.”  Nonetheless, world famous wine authority Robert Parker, around whom the criticised publication was actually centered, claimed to love it, “I loved it…absolutely hilarious…and to be a member of TOON TOWN a great honour…hope it is a great success and gets translated into English and other languages”.   Comics as a media for wine is something that can be enjoyed by even wine authorities- and a wide range of audience that would not normally come in contact with wine.


The popularity of comics as a form of publicising wine cannot be denied, seen in both their sales and the subsequent increase in wine sales themselves.  In the growing wine industry in Asia, and continued tradition of wine in Europe, we can see the rise of French graphic novels on wine as the ultimate combination of the modern media and fine wines- from following the footsteps of manga to now leading the wave of graphic novels on wine across the world.


Courtesy of photo used in image slider:Rue Frontenac – Les Gouttes des Dieu