The Business of Winemaking with Jean-Charles Boisset

Jean-Charles Boisset

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Welcome to Season 2, Episode 32 of Meet the Expert® with Elliot Kallen!

In this episode, Elliot Kallen brings on Jean-Charles Boisset to talk about the business of making wine. Tune in to learn about different wine varietals, food pairings, Baccarat crystal glasses, and more. Should you be decanting your Champagne? Click play to find out!

Meet Our Guest
Jean-Charles Boisset

 French Vitner | Proprietor of 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. 

Wine isn’t just a business. It’s a lifestyle. 

Elliot Kallen: We’ve got Jean-Charles Boisset here. He is the king of Napa Valley Wine. So, we’re going to talk a little bit about wine. We’re going to talk about the business of wine. We’re going to talk about varietals of wine. Wine and I are very passionate. We have a love affair with each other. As you hear from him and his unbelievable passion for wine and the winemaking industry, you’ll understand why I share that passion. So let me welcome Jean-Charles. How are you?

Jean-Charles Boisset: Bonjour, Elliott! How are you? I’m delighted to be with you and I prepared one of the best sparkling, the passion, you know from Los Carneros to have a toast with you. You’re having coffee! This is not right.

Elliot KallenNo, I am sorry. I’m a coffee guy and I don’t do any commercials for Juan Valdez or the country of Colombia. But I do for wine.

Jean-Charles Boisset: I think in that cup you had some Cabernet. Something tells me that this is not coffee, not water. Maybe bubbles in that cup?

Elliot Kallen: That sounds nice. Jean-Charles, we were at your house this past Saturday night for the billionaires’ ball. We had a spectacular time. It’s a throwback to the 1940s when people wore tuxedos and got dressed up for Saturday night. I wish they did that every Saturday because it really makes the night special. So thank you for having us, hosting us, and introducing us to your home for more than once. We’ve been there but once again reintroducing us to your home.

Jean-Charles Boisset: We were delighted to see you so well dressed up. You both came beautiful and extremely charming and sensual. I’m glad I saw you as well on the dance floor. Thank you for your great books. That was a wonderful gift. I’m delighted and if your listeners do not know, Elliott is an amazing writer as well and has written numerous books. He offered me one and I’m gonna read it on the plane in a few days on my way to France, so I’m excited. I’ll be more intellectually savvy and financially clever.

Elliot Kallen: That’s very kind of you. We live our lives with a lot of charity here and for people who don’t know, I’m president of our charity, A Brighter Day. We can’t help but mix what we do with business, charity, altruism, good taste, and so forth. So, again, thanks for being part of that talk. I have a question. I have some questions for you because you are the king of Napa.

At this moment, I’m just in awe of your success and I say that in the kindest of ways. Thank you. So let’s talk for a moment before we get into the wines. You’re not just a wonderful owner of wineries. There’s wine to be made. There’s money to be made in the world of wine, and you’re not doing that for charity.

Jean-Charles Boisset: We love to contribute to charities, this is where we need eventually to make money in the business. What has been really unusual for anyone in the wine world is to have had the life I’ve had because I was very fortunate, Elliot, very fortunate, to have amazing grandparents and parents who are still alive today. They started the winery.

So, I was born as well as my sister in the living room where my parents started to make wine. Wine runs into my blood. Wine is part of my DNA. I’ve made wine, as you know, since the age of 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 years old. I was making cuvées. 

For me, wine is not a business. It’s really a lifestyle. It’s who I am. It’s what I am. It’s how I express myself. It’s really the expression of who I am. This is why I live the life I live and I welcome you to my home, to all our wineries. They’re yours as much as mine. I create to share and this is what is so exciting. 

Wine allows you to through this amazing beverage, a gift of God, to be able to bring the two together in front of people and to have people cheer and be together and open up. Thanks to wine so I use wine as my collective beautiful gift that brings people together.

Elliot Kallen: That’s great. That’s tremendous. I want to tell you what we do and how this whole wine story got started. You’ve seen a picture of our wine room and your team is going to be kind enough to pour for a wine outing. This will be our sixth event of Napa Comes to Lafayette and we’re thrilled to have you. 

I’ll tell you why I do that in my business of being a financial advisor and CEO of Prosperity Financial Group. I advise people all the time into retirement that they need to develop passions and hobbies. Because the last thing you want to do is be a project person that what used to take an hour now takes eight hours to do and that’s what your day is filled with. So you spent the last four months rebuilding your bathroom. That’s what your retirement is. 

So I sat down with my wife about 10 years ago. I said you know I advise people all the time to develop great hobbies and great passions in retirement. We talked about what ours would be. And we said well, we love great wine and we collect it. Not your level but we have plenty of JCB and Raymond generational wine. I’ve got two cases of unopened JCB that my wife’s yelling at me that we’re not drinking fast enough.

Jean-Charles Boisset: Take your time, take your time. It never goes bad, and like any financial product, it’s a product of pleasure. So it never goes bad on the opposite. If you have JCB or Raymond, it improves with time. There’s appreciation in value and appreciation obviously in quality.

Elliot Kallen: That’s great. We have about 1000 bottles at this point. Very pretty wine-tasting room. I know there are people with 5000 bottles who are like me, but I think I need to drink faster. That’s what needs to happen here.

Jean-Charles Boisset: Well, if you invite me more often to your house, we will deplete it together.

Elliot Kallen: I’ll make note of that. We also learned that we like great food, we cook food, and I’m an amateur chef. We go out for great food and wonderful restaurants. One of the ones you recommended is that we went out to Miller & Lux. And we went there because my wife is an avid watcher of your home videos that you make every single day. She saw Miller & Lux and the owner being interviewed. That’s how we ended up there. 

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Wine is meant to be shared and experienced.

Jean-Charles Boisset: Tyler Florence is a great friend and a great chef, but I have a question for you, Elliot. How did you get to build such an amazing wine collection? I mean, 1000 bottles is a lot of bottles. I’ve seen pictures of your incredible wine cellar which is phenomenal. How did you become passionate about it, between finance and wine?

Elliot Kallen: They’re related because they’re both passions, and I’m passionate about finance. About 15 years ago, give or take, I started to look for wine that I would like and I was struggling at first because I kept drinking wine I didn’t like. If I didn’t like it, it meant I couldn’t really appreciate the flavor of it. It’s a struggle I have with Pinot Noir all the time or very oaky Chardonnay. 

It just didn’t feel right on my palate or  it didn’t feel enough on my palate. I didn’t realize that I was really enjoying large, tannic structured Cabs from Napa or spicy Zinfandels from Sonoma. In those days they were spicy. Today they’re not really that spicy, and they’re more fruit-forward. I didn’t understand it. 

So, I went on a quest to get better at what I was doing, to learn how to cook better food, to learn how to eat better food, and to learn how to drink better wine, and share better wine with friends. Because like you and your home, we have always been entertainers in our home. We love to cook great food. I love to experiment on people. We love to share our wine. I don’t collect wine for the sake of collecting. I collect wine to share with great friends as I’ve just developed into a collection.

Jean-Charles Boisset: Congratulations. I think you’re doing it with the right positioning from your heart. All the way to sharing and enjoying, and you know all of that so I commend you for this because for me as we make wine and I help sculpt wine, craft wine, define wine, I want to have people like you in my mind.

I love when people open multiple bottles at dinner, friends come over they share. Wine is meant to be shared, and I always open two or three bottles per course. So you see the flavor profile, you see what you like, and you share experiences, tastes, senses. Wine is all about that and beyond everything else. It allows you to trigger a conversation. So that’s a fun tool that helps you to open many doors.

From Pinot and Petit Verdot to Malbec and Merlot. Why so many varietals?

Elliot Kallen: Let me ask you a little bit about wine to transition to what actually wine is, the varietals. You have a very broad inventory of different varietals of wine. You can see I’m a little narrower in my taste than you are in yours. So let me ask you about your wines because you’ve got a number of wineries and you’ve got Buena Vista that I’ve been to which is wonderful. 

I think it’s the oldest winery in California. You’ve got JCB, which is a relatively young company with incredible crystal and art collection. You’ve got the one you just bought, Elizabeth Spencer, which has been around for many years, but Elizabeth and Spencer. It was a husband and wife team that’s now part of your JCB collection. You’ve got Raymond winery that’s been around for I think 40-plus years now. 

I understand you just broke away one of the lines from them, The Frenchie line, when I used to buy the Frenchie wine it’s a party wine, bring into somebody else’s house wine, and I got a lot of those things. Tell me the difference in wines that our clients can understand. 1000’s of people will see this and they will say, “Oh, you’re crazy not to be a big fan of Pinot,” and other people say, “Wow, good that you could that you understand your tastes, you understand structure and tannins. You’d like some champagne.” 

We have two cases of champagne that we just donated to our charity that was given away for Bubbles of Brunch Breakfast to people, and they loved your champagne. Hopefully I can say champagne instead of sparkling wine because it’s both. Let me just have you talk for a moment about varietals, why you’re broad, and why that’s important. Plus, why I’m so narrow because other clients tell me again, I’m crazy, and others, nobody calls me brilliant but they call me smart every now and then.

Jean-Charles Boisset: Well, Elliot, I may refer to managing a financial portfolio. When you want to have a fixed income, you want to have derivatives, you want to have crypto, you want to have stock, you may want to play with options, then you diversify. I was born making Chardonnay and Pinot Burgundy. It’s my life and it’s the essence of who I am.

Then I branch out into Sonoma with DeLoach Vineyards and made amazing Chardonnay, Pinot, and great Zinfandel. I discovered Zinfandel. I was very open-minded to it and today, I love it. Buena Vista is the founder of Zinfandel in California. Then, I branched out more into Napa Valley so obviously I went to those traditional Bordeaux grape varieties. Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. That I got very curious, I think what is important. Like in your business of financial products, it is important to always be open-minded and curious.  

You talked about Champagne, Chardonnay, and Pinot, typically. You could do it below the ground, which is Chardonnay only, or Pinot, but the Brut is the blend of both, which is what I’m having now. So I really feel what is important, like in your business of finance is to be curious to open your mind, and to allow your mind to be welcoming diversity. It’s the same as in food. One day you may be in the mood for Chinese food, the next day for Thai food, then the next day you may say let’s go to Japanese food. 

Another time you’re gonna go Argentinian beef, another time you’re gonna go all American food and California. Very nice green food and then you’re gonna say oh, I want to go French. I want to go to Italian. I want to go Indian. I think the world of wine is very similar to art, to food, as I just used as an example. You may like Impressionism and you’ve seen at my house, I like surrealism, or you may want to go to traditional antique. You may go to modern furniture. 

I think wine is the same. Different moments, different experiences, different flavor profile, different food. You go with a pizza, you may go with a great Pinot, Sangiovese, or you may go with a wonderful Zinfandel with more spice and pepper. 

You choose the moment, the experience, and the people you are with. I don’t think we want to be monolithic. In our approach, it’s like saying I only like stocks so I only like high-tech stocks. I mean you gotta go traditional and buy maybe, you know traditional industries or logistic companies and then high tech and then you may want to go as well to luxury. That portfolio together makes you have that great return. I think that’s what is important. 

Elliot Kallen: Great. And we’re talking with Jean-Charles Boisset, who is one of the kings of Napa at this moment. He’s with JCB, Raymond and so many more. I don’t want to forget that he’s also the owner of the Oakville Grocery. For many of us, that is a stomping ground and stagecoach for entering Napa Valley. We all stop there and pick up something that’s just absolutely yummy that you can’t find anywhere else.

Jean-Charles Boisset: That’s right. Now we love that place. Elliot, thank you for mentioning it. You know it’s the oldest continuously operated store on the west of the Mississippi founded in 1881. What makes it so exciting is from pizzas to burgers, to great delis and salads, to sandwiches and great produce, great coffees, great wines and a museum to Napa Valley. So in the Victorian house that you love so much, you can get a card and taste over 68 wines by the glass and really experience the art of what Napa Valley has to offer within all the producers of Napa. 

One-stop shopping, a collective place where you could taste every AVA of Napa Valley, 16 of them, and obviously discover the history of every one of them. We love bringing history to you with food with wine and obviously the heritage of America that we really love.

Burgundian style is a technique of winemaking which means sorting the grapes by hand, for the red wines going on open top wood fermenter, doing punch down, doing very slow maceration and giving that very delicate, very emotional touch to the wine with long aging in barrels. I think that’s really what we mean when we talk about Burgundian style Pinot. To try to make a very sophisticated, delicate, very romantic, and very seductive wine.

Burgundy wine vs. American wine. What’s the difference?

Elliot Kallen: So I know your family owns a Burgundy Vineyard and Winery, which is different in France. Wineries in California or the winemaking program are all right next to each other and I know in most countries, that’s not how it is. They’re separated sometimes by miles. Not 50 miles sometimes apart. I have good friends who collect Burgundy. 

They probably have much of your family’s burgundy, and they really looked down on American Pinot and said they would never drink it. And they go to the Burgundy auctions and some of those bottles you know, go for crazy money. So what is the difference between French Burgundy, the style, compared to American Pinot, particularly your DeLoach or other ones?

Jean-Charles Boisset: Well, I would suggest you have your friends be open-minded to both because I think the beauty of Pinot and Chardonnay in the Russian River and the Sonoma Coast of California is quite amazing. I think the difference is when we’ve been making Pinot and Chardonnay for 1000s of years in Burgundy. So we have an extensive experience in that field. 

But it’s a different flavor profile. Why it is very earthy, very deep, very intense. Has that beautiful earthiness to it with ethereal characteristics. That’s Burgundy. In California, we may be more flamboyant or fruit forward with a deeper concentration thanks to the ripeness of the grapes here. So, two different styles but what I love to do, as we did this weekend together, is we try both with dinner, dive into both, and that’s what I love the most, to be able to compare contrast. Enjoy both and have a great time with both. 

My recommendation to everyone is to really be open-minded. Be inclusive of both because if you start the meal maybe with a great Sonoma Coast, a lot of food, a lot of flamboyance, alot of  seduction, if you involve a variety from Burgundy, it’s more earthy. There’s a lot of depth and a lot of intensity. Both work very well in the meal and the progression of the meals. 

For me, it’s a journey. It’s not one and not the other. I could have chosen to live in Burgundy where I was born to continue to build our Burgundy winery, which I’m doing anyhow, and never to come to California. But I thought both would complement each other. I want to have both. Why not? Why be exclusive when you could be inclusive?

Elliot Kallen: What does the Burgundian style mean? 

Jean-Charles Boisset: Burgundian style is a technique of winemaking which means sorting the grapes by hand, for the red wines going on the open top wood fermenter, doing punch down, doing very slow maceration, and giving that very delicate, very emotional touch to the wine with long aging in barrels. I think that’s really what we mean when we talk about Burgundian-style Pinot.

To try to make a very sophisticated, delicate, very romantic, and very seductive wine. At the same time, the Chardonnay is made it within oak but not too much. So you keep the minerality and of course, the intensity of the place. Finally, to be very “terroir” oriented which is the blend of the earth, the climate, and the place. Referring to the sense of place, that small village coming up with a wine like Vougeot, being very specific to the area. So that’s what the Burgundian style is.

Elliot Kallen: You know when I first started the behind these high-end wines they were $85. Now they’re $250 and $300. Everything’s gone up and I think somebody told me the other day they bought a 79 or 85 Screaming Eagle for $6,000. I didn’t even drink that. I don’t know how to open that.

Jean-Charles Boisset: That’s 1000 of glass. That’s a little expensive for me too.

Pricing, points, and providing a cultural experience.

Elliot Kallen: It’s kind of like playing Pebble Beach. You’d love to play when I’m buying you the round at Pebble Beach. You don’t want to spend it yourself. That’s what I think of Screaming Eagle. If you want to buy it for me, I’ll drink it but I would never buy that on my own. 

Jean-Charles Boisset: Well, you know, that’s called elasticity of demand, right? It’s a basic economic rule, and the more demand you have, there’s only one way to play with supplies to allocate by the amount of the bottle and the price points to make sure that you optimize. So I feel we need to remain reasonable in wine prices. The number 1 and 10 are 99 point wines and they are $300 a bottle. So we’re not going crazy. Even Generation 99 Point wine is only $165 a bottle, so we’ve been very reasonable, Elliot, pricing our wine. 

Look at Chateau Buena Vista that you love. $200 bucks for a bottle of wine, 98 points. So you know when we talk about high points, we love ourselves to want to make sure that you buy the wine and you drink them. When you divide by five because there are five glasses in bottle of wine like this. You don’t spend necessarily an arm and leg and you don’t feel with every sip that you have spent your entire savings. So, for me, I like to be reasonable. I want people to drink the wine and to share the wine. You drink it and you enjoy it. 

On top of this, look at this. We put jewelry on top of each bottle. The bottle is clear, it becomes a decanter. It has a glass top finish on top. I mean look, all of them are decorated differently. This is a great skull just been released. I mean all those wines fetch amazing scores, and they’re meant to be collectibles. We were the first ones to actually put jewelry in the world of wine on the bottle. I’m very excited about it because I mean look at this. Isn’t it sexy and cool? 

And you want to have it so I think that’s the whole point of you know winemaking and really providing for you an amazing experience and without again, having any second thoughts after buying a bottle of wine and opening it. I go to so many sellers Elliot where I see 1000s and 1000s of bottles at $1,000 a pop and people never open them because they say wow, I spend so much money. I’m having second thoughts about opening the cork. We should open the wine, we drink it, we celebrate, we live life. As we did on Saturday night! Didn’t we have fun?

Elliot Kallen: That’s why it should be about great food, great wine and don’t forget, first and foremost, great friends. That should be number one.

Jean-Charles Boisset: Wine brings us together. It has that romantic, luxurious, sophisticated way of bringing people together without necessarily getting you too high too quickly. You could sip, you can enjoy. It’s a cultural experience. It’s a monument of culture. That’s what I love about wine. You talk about architecture, history, gardening, art, decoration, designs, fashion, beauty, and emotions; all the topics are summarized in his glass of wine. It’s a cultural experience. So that’s why I’m a big fan.

Elliot Kallen: It’s a cultural experience. That’s why I’m a big fan. So we’re in the business of winemaking because you’ve got gorgeous, gorgeous bottles, got some beautiful flavors, from a cost standpoint it isn’t like everything else. The profit margins are so much larger on these wines for the winery. Yes, it takes more but it doesn’t take four times the amount of money to produce it, but there’s more profit because it’s just about wine.

Jean-Charles Boisset: Well, indeed, so I think the cost of wine obviously on a bottle like this is very high. Specifically, when you start to put this fancy bottle and this unbelievable jewelry, so we want to make sure that an expensive bottle of wine like this one, at $500 a bottle, the consumer has an amazing bottle in their hands besides the liquid itself. We don’t cut corners. We love it when you have a full experience. It’s like this glass. You have them at home. It’s the Baccarat glasses. 

It’s the one we designed with the most historical crystal maker in the world of crystal. And look at this. This is all about luxury. This is the red wine glass. Listen to the sound. This is the bell of Lafayette church, or temple, or mosque, or whatever your religion is. This is the finest of the finest. So again, we want people to have the finest and this is why we pay attention to detail. The cost of wine is important and building the experience is really what we’re all about. This is where we have so much fun.

” Drinking wine? Take your time, take your time. It never goes bad, and like any financial product, it’s a product of pleasure.”

Wine glasses, decanters, crystal at its’ finest. 

Elliot Kallen: I’ll tell you a quick funny story because I’m a fan of wine glasses because I know really makes a difference. Tammy and I went to a food and wine pairing not too long ago in Sonoma County. They nearly do a great job. They serve most of the red wine in white wine, smaller glasses. I said I know glasses. Well after I asked, “Why are you doing that?” I asked that question. You know the inquiring mind question that people don’t want to ask. 

They said the winemaker felt that the smaller the glass would keep the aroma more in,  and you don’t want to let the aroma out too quickly. Which is the opposite of what everything I’ve been taught. :et the red wine breathe, let it out. Let it fill the room and want you to eat more.

Jean-Charles Boisset: Absolutely. A wine is like a human being. We have to realize that an amazing wine like this vintage 2017, 2018, has been captured in the bottle for at least a few years. And specifically, if you open older vintages for maybe eight to 10 years, the wine needs to breathe like us. 

We need to open up. We need oxygen. The wine we need to allow the air to come in order to break out the molecules and bring a maximum amount of bouquet. Bouquetis the aroma, the aromatic expression of the wine. So this is why drinking in a big glass is very important. A big glass, highly open at the base, and close on the top. 

As you bring your nose, it funnels all the aroma to your nostril and then you can inhale nicely, then you swirl, then you drink. You want a large container, not too tight. This one is meant for champagne and sparkling wine. This is why it’s a little smaller.

Elliot Kallen: I think that glass is called a tulip shape. Relatively new out there versus a Pinot, open bowl shape. What’s the difference between those two?

Jean-Charles Boisset: That’s right. So this one luckily is meant to be all in one. This is why I call it the fashion collection, the one and only. I’ve designed it in a certain height, a certain proportion that it fits all. So I recommend if you want anything in this world, it’s the passion collection. $180 a glass. It’s expensive but lasts forever. It’s crystal. 

Crystal is the finest historical clear container that will bring any liquid whether it’s champagne, wines, or distilled spirits, and this shape is the ultimate because it has that tulip with the rounder, bigger shapes so it combines both in one. This is the one I recommend you have in your dining room. Not that you don’t I’m sure you do already, because you’re a man of taste and you’re a man of style. So I’m coming to lafayette for a year to see you. I hope we’ll drink in the passion collection.

Elliot Kallen: That sounds great. I’d love to have you for dinner. That’s terrific. You know you have some unbelievable collections of art and crystal. Yeah. And for people that want to see that on display. There’s a crystal room at Raymond but more importantly at the JCB lounge, you have some magnificent crystal pieces there. Tell us about this.

Jean-Charles Boisset: Raymond is a great place but Buena Vista has a huge collection in Sonoma as well. The point for us is always to bring out beautiful crystals so you understand how wine could be decanted. I’m going to show you one of the decanter’s capacity. There’s two of the ones we have here. Those beautiful decanters I’ve designed two that are very, very important. We can really look at what creates an amazing decanter and this is at the JCB lounge in Yountville. Look at those babies. 

You decant the wine for like half an hour to 45 minutes and you serve it in this beautiful decanter in the glass. What I’m doing right now, so you have one for red wine and white wine, and one for champagne. This one is made for champagne or sparkling wine. This has been featured in all the top magazines that you can imagine and we’ve been really having a tremendous amount of press on it because this is the first and only in Champagne. So you want to craft your champagne to aerate it, break out the molecular structure of the bubbles, to have fewer bubbles, but very refined so they dance on your palate.

Elliot Kallen: That’s what we look for. Okay, as long as we’re talking about aerators so I’ve been told that if you’re drinking wine older than 1980 Don’t aerate it, you’ll kill it. Then other people who have the exact opposite opinion, always aerate your wine. What’s the right way to do this?

Jean-Charles Boisset: Well, there’s no systematic rule. I think it really depends on which vintage. So if the vintage is still very fruity, very robust, like an 80 to 84 I will decant. I would not decant a 69. Sometimes I could because it’s still big but I will not decant a 67 and I will not decant a 64. 

The younger it is, I recommend the more you should decant because you want aerate, you want to give it the volume of the air. So there are no systematic rules. I love decanting because its beautiful. Aerate your wine, give them air, make them feel comfortable. You can decant for 10 to 15 minutes and then of course serve it so you don’t lose the aroma.

Elliot Kallen: To come back again to the business of wine, if we could, because I’m a big fan of what you do. Obviously, I’m a fan of your wine or I wouldn’t be buying it. We’ve turned many people now on to your wineries. I want to talk about the marketing side of wine because it’s not good to make great wine and no one buys it. It’s not good to be the best-kept secret in my industry, financial services, or your industry of wine and winemaking. People go out of business with great products all the time. That’s right. You are a marketing machine. I’ll call you a marketing genius.

The same reason why if you have a different skin color, you have a different religion, you have a different belief, it’s all okay. I want to make sure that everybody belongs at the table. It’s not about monolithic thoughts. It’s about being as diverse as inclusive.

Why have exclusivity when you can have inclusivity?

The art of pairing wine with food. Or is it food with wine?

Jean-Charles Boisset: No, no, you’re very kind but not really. We really love what we do. Passion is what drives us. Loving is part of the energy of what we do wine, fragrance, jewelry, and food, are what I love to do. So on our website, you could be part of all of it, and certainly, follow us.

I would love to have you come over. We’ll have a lot of cheese where you could choose the region or the country of origin you want. We’ll pair it with wine. We’ll have a great time again. Wait, no, you don’t gain weight with cheese actually, and we’ll have a lot of fun.

Elliot Kallen: I want you to if you don’t know this because we threw a party many years ago in the Red Room at Raymond. We did that years and years ago and it was just a wine tasting and a great day and a great afternoon. I think we’ll be attending your Generations opening.

Our clients love these things. We did two virtual wine tastings last year. We sent out food. We’re talking about doing a virtual cooking class with wine again this year and I think cheese. I’m a little bit of a cheese lover. I had a French teacher in ninth grade that introduced us to cheese and I’ve never stopped eating it. Hopefully, I don’t die of heart disease from all of it. 

Let me ask you about the food and wine pairing. In America, it’s nothing like it is in France. When Tammy and I went to Bordeaux and we had a discussion about how much wine what how much wine we buy in our budget. We came up with a number that we will not buy more than nine cases of wine while we’re there. We didn’t come even close to that. Because the French were telling us the problem with you Americans is you like to drink wine by itself, which I do. 

My wife does. We don’t need food. We don’t care if we have food with a glass of wine. We like the wine and we pick out our wine before we pick our food, not our food and then the wine. I know you’re from France and I don’t want to minimize or belittle your heritage but they made fun of us because they pick out the food and then they pair it with wine. They said we don’t really know what we’re doing and that’s why we’re not Bordeaux lovers. Were Cabernet lovers because we don’t know what we’re doing basically. On a global scale. So are they right or wrong? Or is there room for both of us?

Jean-Charles Boisset: Oh, absolutely. I think either way, depending on how you enter into the equation. I think the fun part is that I love the fact that you pick your wine first and then you plan around it. I’m going to constitute this incredible meal and this food and wine pairing. I think it’s fun. You know, vice versa. I think it’s both ways. I think what is exciting is again to order multiple bottles of wine and treat one as a food ingredient, try it as a flavor profile that really complements anything. 

To go wild like tonight, we’re going to have a vegetarian dinner of all things because I have friends coming that are vegetarian. Five, six bottles of wine that we’re going to have that I think represents well the type of food we’re going to have, but I’m gonna let them choose. I think as well it’s fun to bring diversity to the table and pick. It’s like having multiple dishes so to be open-minded to be creative and create with both that you bring to the table.

Elliot Kallen: That’s great. I said earlier to show that we’re doing Napa comes to Lafayette. Yes, some of the wines are from your organization. We haven’t picked them all out but we’ll do a pairing, mix and match, and have a little bit of fun that day. We tell everybody to bring a dish that you wish to share. And don’t be afraid to mix it but we have, I think last year with people purchased about $15,000 of wine which was doubled the year before or the two years before. that because of COVID and at a wider reason. 

Yours has been so charitable with it with a brighter day, which is wonderful, but I’m looking forward to it. So if people like your wine and they can’t make it to Napa or Yountville, and they want to taste your wine come out to our house or be in touch with us because we love your wine enough to have you there. We love the personality that you bring to it. Because your wine, like you Jean-Charles, has a personality, multiple personalities. You probably have multiple personalities and that’s a topic for a different show.

Jean-Charles Boisset: How many times have I been reincarnated? Redirected? I believe in that.

Elliot Kallen: The nice part about your wine is it’s so broad, its variety. I can say I like as you call bubbly, but I can’t stand Petit Verdot.  I love Cabs but I hate this. There’s a spot for all of us. I don’t just have to be broad. I can be narrow or I can be broad. I can say I’d like steak and I could do ribeye and strip and filet and so forth. Or I can be more like I am, who says those are all very good, but I prefer to have this mouthwatering melting filet mignon. That’s how I look at wine. I know the people that I’m drinking wine with don’t have to share my taste.

Jean-Charles Boisset: That’s very true. This is the reason why we make such a broad range of wine from Burgundy to the South of France. Burgundy, Rhone Valley, South of France, Napa, Sonoma. Why? Because we want to have a lot of people at the table. And you know if you have different taste okay, if you have a diverse flavor profile, it’s okay. 

The same reason why Elliot, if you have a different skin color, you have a different religion, you have a different belief, it’s all okay. I want to make sure that everybody belongs at the table. It’s not about monolithic thoughts. It’s about being as diverse as inclusive. If you like Rhone Valley and Sirah, be my guest. If you’d like Zinfandel, be my guest. I have something for you. If you like Cabernet, we have something for you. That’s the fun of it, as long as it’s well made, made with integrity, with discipline, with talent, and sophistication. That’s what we like.

Buttery, oaky, or mineral. What does it all mean?

Elliot Kallen: I’ve spoken to people who only like white wines and I’m trying not to look down on them for only like whites here. I think of a mineral the white, about a buttery white, an oakey, white, and I think of a mineral white, and burgundy style white. I think of them as four very distinct flavor patterns. What is the difference between them to white wine drinkers?

Jean-Charles Boisset: I think you’ve described it beautifully. You have the shabby style Burgundy which is no oak, very mineral. It’s in a soil that used to be in the ocean. You have more limestone and a calcareous soil which could have that beautiful flippiness with a little bit of oak, so little vanilla, and tones of floral. Then you could go to that very buttery, rich, fully malolactic style that you’ve described.

It’s all good, but they all fit on a spectrum. One is more vibrant, the other one is more vivacious, and the other one may be richer, denser. And, it’s fine. You know one you would like it with sashimi, the other one you may like it more with curry or Indian food, and the other one you may like it with a trout. You may love it with roasted chicken.

We cannot just be one way. We need to always be open to the different flavor profiles and find what you like. Be very curious. I think it’s important not to say okay, “I only like this and that’s all I like that’s all I want.” I think to keep trying.

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All my best,

Elliot Kallen


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