Tasting fees: $30-$50, depending on experience chosen
Wines offered: The JCB collection of Napa Valley wines is featured in three distinct flights: the Premium Collection, the JCB Touch Interactive tasting and The Surrealist flight
Reservations: Recommended for the tasting experiences and required for parties of eight or more
Picnics: No (hampers are available to take-away from Atelier)
Did you know: Since launching the Surrealist wine 1.5 years ago, JCB has introduced the Surrealist jewelry collection, personally designed by Jean-Charles Boisset: “He hand-sketches each piece and they all have a story.”
Any wine property owned by flamboyant Frenchman Jean-Charles Boisset is sure to be filled with style and surprise, and his new pair of Yountville shops delivers plenty of both—with a heaping side order of opulence. The JCB Tasting Salon is bedecked with exotic finishes and lush textures, including gilt, velvet and mirrors; shelves line the walls, displaying luxury retail pieces by Lalique, Baccarat, Christofle, Bernardaud and others, interspersed with JCB Collection wine and merchandise. Large digital framed artwork displays rotate through a series of surrealist and modern art masterpieces.
“Celebrating the wine, the best of California and France, is what the JCB label is all about,” says Tamara Stanfill, communications manager for Boisset Collection. “From the moment you step inside the JCB Tasting Salon, the energy and flow of the room is guided by the counter-clockwise rotating Baccarat chandelier. It’s the first thing you notice when you come in, and it’s intended to inspire you to transition through the room on an adventure. The long table is purposefully positioned on a slant to create and catalyze the highest energy position in the room and encourage you to travel forward into the space and take it all in.”
Each JCB wine has a number associated with it, rather than a name. Each non-sequential number has a story behind it. JCB ∞ (rich texture and elegant fruit), for example, is the label’s first sparkling wine made from organic fruit, and the infinity symbol represents “the universe balanced in infinite harmony.”
JCB No. 13, a sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir from Burgundy, was feminine and delicate, with a fruity palate and creamy finish. Thirteen represents Boisset’s connection with his wife, Gina Gallo (it’s her favorite number).
Boisset, who grew up in France, first visited the Bordeaux region when he was 16 years old. His JCB No. 16 is a Bordeaux-style blend of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, with lemon, vanilla and kiwi on the nose and refreshing flavors of honeydew melon and clementine.
JCB No. 3 Pinot Noir combines fruit from Russian River Valley and Burgundy, France—“the only such blend anywhere that we know of,” says Stanfill. It captures both the elegance of French-style Pinots and the masculine power of RRV. Described as “the best of both worlds,” its number signifies “two worlds uniting as one to create a sum greater than its parts: one plus one equals three.”
Another tasting innovation is the JCB Interactive Touch experience. Boisset worked with New Mexico-based Ideum to develop a touchscreen table that’s activated when special wine coasters are placed on it. The program that plays walks tasters through the wines, including informational videos, maps of vineyard location, tutorials on winemaking style, visual and verbal prompts for tasting notes and more. It’s a whole new way to experience and learn about wine.
“We want to find ways to incorporate education into our JCB wine experiences, but in a fun way,” says Stanfill. “We reached out to Ideum, which has mostly worked with art installations and museums, and asked them to collaborate. Everything you’re seeing was Jean-Charles’ concept, designed by him and our Boisset team.”
The Surrealist Lounge (a separate tasting room within the Salon) features Boisset’s personally designed jewelry and Surrealist wine. “Surrealist is our highest end wine,” says Stanfill. “It’s a red wine blend from Napa Valley that features Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot.” The Surrealist tasting experience includes five wines, ending with its namesake. Surrealist bottles are decorated with a piece of “art,” and a matching brooch can be purchased; a special gift pack includes wine, brooch and a Baccarat crystal wine stopper as well. “The bottles are designed to be reused as a decanter, which is why we include the crystal stopper and use jewelry as a label. It’s meant to be saved and cherished.”
Adjacent to the salon is Atelier by JCB, offering a curated assortment of gourmet delicacies, both local and international, including spices, condiments, charceuterie, cheese, honeys, teas and coffees, chocolates, foie gras, caviars and more. “Yountville as a village has a very European feel to it,” says Stanfill. “Jean-Charles wanted to celebrate that by offering the best of local and international food purveyors.” Besides the delicacies and hard-to-find European fare, you can also order sandwiches ($10-$29); lunch trays of cheese, bread and meat for up to 25 people ($30-$189); or full picnics ($15-$110 per person).
As we enjoy our final tasting of the day, Boisset’s first-ever Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon—fittingly named JCB No. 1 (voluptuous, with a strong structure and opulent flavors)—Stanfill encourages us to “Transition from wherever you were before and enter a world of dreams.” With that, the detail and passion behind Boisset’s vision reveals itself.
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