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Season 2, Episode 15: Building a Wine Empire with Jean-Charles Boisset 

Welcome to Season 2, Episode 15 of Meet the Expert® with Elliot Kallen! 

Elliot Kallen brings on Jean-Charles Boisset, French vintner and the proprietor of the Boisset Collection, to discuss the wine business, the “proper” way to drink wine, what your favorite wine says about your personality, and more! 

Meet Our Guest

Jean-Charles Boisset, President and Proprietor of The Boisset Collection, JCB Collection, Lyeth Estates, Domaine de la Vougeraie, DeLoach Vineyards, Raymond Vineyards, Buena Vista Winery, JCB Tasting Lounge, Tasting Salon and Atelier by JCB
Jean-Charles Boisset

Proprietor, The Boisset Collection

Jean-Charles Boisset was born into the world of wine in the village of Vougeot, Burgundy, France. His lifelong passion for wine began as a child, as he grew up above the cellars and within view of the centuries-old vineyards of Château du Clos de Vougeot, the epicenter and birthplace of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Jean-Charles Boisset is a French vintner and the proprietor of the Boisset Collection, which operates 30 wineries in California, France, and Canada.

Today, the family collection includes wineries that share more than 20 centuries of combined winemaking heritage and tradition in some of the world’s most prestigious terroirs, from Burgundy to the South of France, to California’s Napa Valley and Russian River Valley.

1881 Napa, Buena Vista Winery, DeLoach Vineyards, Durant & Booth, Founder’s Ranch, Frenchie Winery, JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset, Joliesse Vineyards, Lockwood Vineyard, Lyeth Estate, are just some of the California wineries in the Boisset Collection.

Which wines are you most excited about?

JCB: Each JCB wine is known by a number. As of late, I’m most excited about No. 21, Brut Cremant de Bougogne. No. 21 has a special significance, as my philosophy of wine has been profoundly shaped by the wine region where I was born and raised: Burgundy's famous Cote d'Or, or the Gold Coast. 21 is the French government's "Department" number for the Cote d'Or, and JCB No. 21 honors this connection and heritage.


How did you develop your passion for wine?

EK: You are incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about wine, viniculture, and wine culture. It’s infectious. How do you maintain your lifelong passion for wine?

JCB: I was born into the world of wine in the village of Vougeot, Burgundy, France. My lifelong passion for wine began as a child, as I grew up above the cellars and within view of the centuries-old vineyards of Château du Clos de Vougeot, the epicenter and birthplace of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I cultivate my passion by blending wine with a specific person in mind, and I feel energized when I have the chance to share my wine and passion with others.


Napa is known for its Cabernet... 

EK: ... and in your opinion, what are some of the more underrated wines?

JCB: Cabernet Sauvignon is the undisputed “King grape” of Napa Valley, and Bordeaux follows closely in popularity. Among the 30 wineries in the Boisset Collection, the biggest focus is on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, sparkling wine and Champagne, Rose, and Bordeaux. My wife Gina is crazy about Bordeaux.


Left Bank Bordeaux vs. Right Bank Bordeaux

Have you ever heard someone refer to a wine as "Left Bank Bordeaux" or "Right Bank Bordeaux" and have no idea what they mean?

Because of the differences in terroir, Left and Right Bank Bordeaux tend to showcase two different grapes: 

  • Left Bank wines are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon fleshed out with Merlot
  • Right Bank wines are more Merlot balanced by a smaller proportion of Cabernet.

The beauty of wine is its sheer diversity! It takes a great vision to assemble a great wine collection.

Similarly to how we see great beauty in the diversity of people — from skin color to religion to homeland — wine is magical because you can taste a wine and transport yourself to any region all over the world. In one night, one can taste Italy with a Sangiovese, the Russian River with a Chardonnay, and Spain with a Tempranillo. 

The beauty of humanity is in our diversity of origin, skin color, religion, and more. Similarly, the beauty of wine is found in its diverse aromas, flavors, mouthfeels, and appearance.

Wine also offers a traveling experience: you can transport yourself to different regions -- all in one night, you can sample Sangiovese from Italy, to Chardonnay from the Russian River, to Tempranillo from Spain.

And, of course, wine is the catalyst for all great conversation. A great wine tasting or wine pairing leads you through a journey to a wonderful crescendo.


How to drink wine: with your meal or without?

EK: The French and Americans approach drinking differently. In France, drinking is a much slower process. The French savor wine alongside food and conversation. In contrast, Americans enjoy wine without food.

JCB: You don’t always need food with wine. In a lot of ways, wine is just as satiating as food.

The most important thing to remember is to eat and drink things that you enjoy. You should have wine the way you want it — with brunch, in the late afternoon, while listening to music — there are no rules with wine. There are no rules set in stone, and anyway, too many rules tend to kill creativity and fun. 


Is it true that you can tell someone’s personality by their wine of choice?

EK: I prefer a big, bold Cabernet to a softer grape like Pinot Noir. What does this say about me?

JCB: You know what you want, you know what you like, and it’s wonderful that we all discover and develop our unique taste preferences after tasting so many different types of wine throughout our lives.

Even within the category of Cabernet Sauvignon, there is a variety of colors, tones, and flavor profiles. It’s many different wines in one.

Pinots are wonderful too, but they’re another texture, another romance, and another story.

I like them all. I feel wine is so diverse, unique, and exciting that it’s different from moment to moment. I like Pinot Noir with cheese, Cabernet with sweets and big, juicy meats, Pinot Grigio with white meats and fish, Chardonnay with sashimi and Chinese and Indian food, and Sauvignon Blanc with lean and clean and herbaceous foods.

The beauty of wine? You can have whatever you want, whenever you want.


Why did you decide to add Oakville Grocery to your family’s collection?

EK: Oakville Grocery is a little roadside business that isn’t near any of the major wineries or downtown areas. What went into your decision to acquire Oakville Grocery?

JCB: Oakville Grocery is the oldest continuously operated store west of the Mississippi. It was originally founded in 1879 and incorporated in 1881 — in the 19th century! — so this is a huge deal. This is the place to go at the crossroads of the wine country in Napa Valley. 

We offer amazing organic, gourmet, and California-grown products. We also offer salads, sandwiches, coffees, teas, pastries, and an amazing assortment of tapenades, crostinis and crackers, 160+ different cheeses, 50+ different hams and salumis with the biggest assortment of wine from Napa Valley (over 850 different wines are promoted at the store!). 

For history buffs, we have transformed the adjacent Durrant & Booth house into an interactive museum where guests can learn about the specific elements that make the wines of the Napa Valley so unique. Guests can learn about the 16 subregions in the Napa Valley appellation, including its distinguishing characteristics as well as its history. This is a gem of Napa wine country.


Tell me about the JCB Tasting Salon.

JCB: It’s an amazing spot. It is a one-of-a-kind tasting room and retail store that encompasses Napa Valley wines, luxury, and style. The retail store features products such as JCB’s custom-designed jewelry collection, candles, perfumes, and luxury home and wine accessories, as well as lifestyle books from Taschen, Assouline, and Rizzoli.

Get two wine memberships: JCB Collectors, which gives you access to exclusive events, and Raymond Winery Select, which gives you access to Raymond’s award-winning Estate, Small Lot, and District wines.


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MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

» Visit the Boisset Collection, where you can browse individual wines and learn about the history and various brands of the Boisset Collection.

»  Stop by the JCB Tasting Salon on 6505 Washington Street in Yountville, CA 94599.

» Connect with JCB on Instagram.


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