Drops of God hooked me hard in the first episode with its fascinating characters. The two key characters are Frenchwoman Camille (Fleur Geffrier and Manon Maindivide as a child) and Issei (Tomohisa Yamashita), a Japanese man. When Camille’s world famous wine critic and wine collector father dies, she finds herself competing for his valuable wine collection against a total stranger from Japan.
Drops of God begins in France where 29 year old Camille lives with her mother Marianne (Cécile Bois and Margaux Chatelier as a young woman). Her mother hates her father and Camille hasn’t seen him in 10 years.
As a child, Camille was trained by her father to catalogue and identify aromas and tastes, especially in wine. As an adult she never drinks alcohol and doesn’t often think about her father.
Her father, Alexandre (Stanley Weber), now lives in Japan. He publishes a yearly guide to wine known all over the world. This guide can make or break a winery with just a few words. He has the world’s largest wine collection (87,000 bottles), and he has a beautiful home in Japan worth millions.
And he dies.
Camille is in Japan thinking she’ll learn about her inheritance at the reading of the will. It isn’t like that.
Camille will have to compete with her father’s best student, the Japanese man Issei, in a test of skills at identifying wine. Whoever wins the competition will inherit everything.
There are 8 episodes in this complex drama. Family, relationships, links, backstories, and current romances are all developed.
Here are a few highlights from the plot.
Camille returns to a vineyard where her father taught her as a child to learn how to identify wine. She asks for help regaining her skills. Thomas (Tom Wozniczka), who she knew as a child, is all grown up and very handsome. Ooh la la!
Then Camille goes to Japan to work with a team of people led by Luca (Diego Ribon) who want to help her identify the wines in the contest. This group go everywhere in search of answers, including one trip to Italy.
Issei is dealing with opposition from his mother, Honoka (Makiko Watanabe and Nanami Kameda as a young woman), because she wants him in the family diamond business. She does not want him fooling around with wine.
Honoka was very good at identifying wines herself as a young woman, but Issei doesn’t know that. The connection between Issei, his parents, and Alexandre was transparently obvious well before the big reveal in episode 5. But that’s when Issei figured it out and understood why he was in the competition.
There were many flashbacks and many shots of Camille and Issei sniffing and tasting wine. That could have been tedious. It was never tedious. It was dramatic and full of tension as they competed with each other to figure out the answers and win the inheritance. The process was inherently mysterious and pulled you with momentum and excellent pacing.
The story worked so well because it was actually about family: parents and children and links between people. And love in all its many forms.
I thought the actors all did an excellent job. They had to speak several languages. Mostly we heard French, Japanese, and English but there were sometimes others. Quoc Dang Tran created and wrote the series based on a manga by Shin Kibayashi. In the original manga, the character that became Camille was male. Switching it to a woman was brilliant and really made the series and the story shine.
Israeli director Oded Ruskin directed every episode. It’s streaming on Apple TV+.
If you watch this one, please share what you thought of it in the comments.