Jean-Charles Boisset quiets a long table of 50-plus guests in New York’s Meatpacking District as gold magnums of Champagne clink in the background. It’s a Last Supper–inspired meal for the French-born winemaker, part of his multicity tour to promote a $395 coffee table book called The Alchemy of the Senses. As saumon à l’oseille arrives with a rich pinot noir, Boisset begins to explain his selection, an unusual blend of grapes from Burgundy and California called JCB No. 3.
After inhaling deeply from a particularly wide crystal goblet that’s part of his new collaboration with Baccarat, Boisset admits that this dinner has caused him to miss the ten-year anniversary of his marriage to Gina Gallo, the third-generation face of the family behind the world’s largest wine producer by volume, E. & J. Gallo. During their engagement, they made a wine of the same origins together—blending, bottling and corking by hand—and then served it at their wedding as a symbol of her historic California roots becoming intertwined with his family’s own Burgundian heritage.
“Half of it is made in Burgundy, so that’s 49% of the blend,” Boisset says in a thick French accent before pausing dramatically. “I need to confess. I will tell you something very personal. My love likes to be on top. So 51% is California.”
Sex is clearly the theme of this Boisset soirée, where the innuendo-filled jokes flow as freely as the wine. Leopard-print silk napkins sit on a red velvet tablecloth, and a mirror has replaced the ceiling (“Ladies, be careful, because I can see everything!”). Dates never sit together, and Boisset encourages touching (“You could still caress the person next to you. I see a lot of that is already happening, which I’m delighted to see!”).
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