When Bordeaux rocks: testing a legendary music and wine pairing

A legendary, fictional wine and music association was tested live for the first time in London yesterday where it was shown that Bordeaux really does rock.

Drinking Mont-Pérat is compared to a “shirt-tearing jam by rock band Queen”

Featuring live performances and almost unobtainable bottles, the event was held at 67 Pall Mall private members’ wine club yesterday evening, and hosted by its wine buyer and musician, Nelson Pari, and Master of Wine Richard Bampfield.

Inspired by the hit Japanese comic series called The Drops of God, the wine that featured in last night’s wine and music event was Côtes de Bordeaux estate Château Mont-Pérat – a property based in Entre-deux-Mers, owned by the Despagne family.

Much to the surprise of Thibault Despagne, who runs the estate and was present at 67 Pall Mall yesterday, his 2001 vintage of Château Mont-Pérat appeared in the inaugural volume of Drops of God back in 2006.

The hero in the weekly manga, who is called Shizuku Kanzaki, takes a sip of Château Mont-Pérat 2001, and compares it to a “shirt-tearing jam by rock band Queen”, before being transported to a live concert, where the band is playing Bohemian Rhapsody.

Since that mention, the wine has achieved cult status in Japan, along with large swathes of East Asia, particularly South Korea, where The Drops of God is used like a textbook for learning about wine.

But since its inclusion in the comic series 15 years ago, to db’s knowledge, there has never been a professional tasting to test the association – so, does Mont-Pérat 2001 pair with Bohemian Rhapsody, and do the wines from this Bordeaux property rock like Queen at a live concert?

That was considered last night, where Pari picked up his guitar and took us through a set of Queen’s greatest hits, while Bampfield talked about the wines on show – which are listed below.

However, the final music and wine pairing was the cult 2001 vintage of Mont-Pérat with Queen’s most famous and longest song – the 7.01 minute Bohemian Rhapsody.

Because the 2001 expression is now unobtainable, Despagne donated some of the few remaining magnums of the vintage from his personal cellar, which were sipped to the sound of Queen.

With so many elements to the song, from guitar solos, softly sung harmonies, and an operatic section, the challenge for the wine would be to complement all of them, but where they did match was in their similar levels of complexity.

Furthermore, the 2001 Mont-Pérat was a “beautiful wine,” said Bampfield, and “better than the 2000” – which was tasted earlier in the evening – despite the latter year being deemed better by most in the region.

Nelson, who started the event proclaiming that it “wasn’t a wine tasting; this is a rock gig”, described the final wine and music pairing as “a once in a lifetime” and “an insane trip”.

Certainly the 2001 from magnum was an impressive wine, and still with plenty of vigour, despite being 20 years old.

Furthermore, what became clear during the evening was the marked improvement in the precision and intensity of the wines from Mont-Pérat up until the outstanding 2018 vintage, proving the quality that is now available among the top estates in the Côtes de Bordeaux.

Finally, the unusual event showed that Bordeaux, considered somewhat staid in the UK, has a very different image in the Far East – where, as Mont-Pérat proves, it’s the drink of rock.

An insane trip: 67 Pall Mall wine buyer Nelson Pari

How did Mont-Pérat end up in the manga comic?

So how did a bottle of Côtes de Bordeaux end up with such a prominent place in The Drops of God?

Well, as Despagne told db yesterday, his father had spent many years visiting Japan since the family’s purchase of Mont-Pérat in 1998, believing it to be potentially strong market for Bordeaux.

As a result, there was some distribution for the wine in Tokyo wine shops, and so, when the wine-loving authors of the hit manga series, brother and sister Shin and Yuko Kibayashi, visited their local merchant, it was suggested they buy a bottle.

It was having done this, and tasted it, that the wine was incorporated in the first of 44 volumes that were eventually produced of the comic series.

Not only was the wine compared to a Queen concert by the authors, but also the much more highly-priced Bordeaux blend from California, Opus One.

According to Despagne, the 2001 vintage was especially significant for him because it was the birth year of his first child, and so he had put an extra special effort into the wine, as well as bottling more quantities in larger formats in honour of his son’s arrival into the world.

db was the first English wine publication to interview Shin and Yuko Kibayashi back in 2016, when the duo were honoured with the Asian Wine Personality award at Vinexpo Hong Kong.

Since 2004, the Japanese manga authors have featured 12 fine wines in The Drops of God – and you can see their choices here.

Meanwhile you can read more about them, and the manga series here.

The wine and music pairings from last night’s event are listed below:

  • Keep Yourself Alive (from the album Queen, 1973) paired with Château Mont-Pérat 2012
  • Killer Queen (from the album Sheer Heart Attack, 1974) paired with Château Mont-Pérat 2000
  • We are the Champions (from the album News of the World, 1977) paired with Château Mont-Pérat 2010
  • Under Pressure (from the album Hot Space, 1981) paired with Château Mont-Pérat 2018
  • The Show Must Go On (from the album Innuendo, 1991) paired with Château Mont-Pérat 2005
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (from the album A Night at the Opera, 1975) paired with Château Mont-Pérat 2001

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