Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Vive la France at DeLoach Vineyards -- JCB Comes to RRV

I’m drinking wine while a conga line dances to the beat of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and snakes around large wood wine tanks embellished with disembodied legs and heads. All around me I see Libertines, silent sentries from the French Renaissance, their eyes glazed, mouths in half-pouts. It’s not a fever dream. It’s another night in the world of Jean-Charles Boisset.

Every time I get an invitation to a Jean-Charles Boisset event I know I’m going to enter a world of pure imagination dedicated to the proposition that wine wrapped around education and pleasure is the key to creating a memorable and satisfying experience.

Last week I attended an event to showcase the reinvention of DeLoach Vineyards in Sonoma. The property has been re-cast as homage to France, but with both feet firmly planted in the good earth of the Russian River Valley.

Now at DeLoach you can participate in a variety of experiences including a blending session to produce your own wine, a guided tasting of vineyard designates that highlight the particular soils of the local vineyards, or you can learn about the world of wine and mustard and even make your own batch on premise. The mustard experience is in partnership with Fallot Mustard of Burgundy France and includes a flight of DeLoach wine. There is also a very intersting new experience called the Taste of Terrior.

The Appellation Room
The vineyard designate tasting is held in The Appellation Room that features a gigantic relief map to help you pinpoint the exact place the vineyards are located and understand the influence of prevailing fog patterns. This is the kind of stuff I love, but even if you are not a geek about soils, I think its one of the most relaxing and comfortable places to just sit back and consider each wine at your own pace.

The Royal Barrel Cellar is an illuminating experience
The Royal Barrel Cellar
A companion to the Appellation Room is the Royal Barrel Cellar with an energetic vibe and the most electrifying lighting experience that makes it truly feel like Wonka-land. Here you can taste barrel samples and ponder the life force of wine fermenting all around you.

Theater of Nature
Wander around the manicured gardens and groomed grounds to The Theater of Nature, where you can take a self-guided interpretative walk thru biodynamic and organic practices. This experience is comparable to the one at Raymond Vineyards in Napa, but DeLoach has far better views. Yes, I’m biased, DeLoach is practically in my backyard and I’m partial to the Sonoma scenery.

Taste of Terrior
Just beyond the Theatre of Nature, past an old growth stand of redwoods, is the garden that produces the majority of produce used in all the dinners and events at DeLoach. The garden path wraps past a spotless barn area housing sheep and chickens and then leads up to one the most interesting new experiences – the Taste of Terrior.

At the Taste of Terrior guests can compare Boisset Family wines from famed regions of France side-by-side with locally produced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. The point is not to debate which is better, France or Sonoma, but instead to elevate the sense of place each presents and educate the palate all in one stop. It’s one of the only places to offer such a tasting in the entire country. I did not partake of the experience that night, but I am anxious to go back and check it out.

JCB Winery Lounge
For those of you who have visited Raymond Vineyards in Napa and long for the Baccarat crystal tank room, the decant JCB Lounge, and the members only Red Room-- don’t despair-- you can capture a similar sensation at the exclusive JCB Winery Lounge at DeLoach.

Jean-Charles Boisset is more than the Willy Wonka of Wine – he is The Pied Piper of Pinot Noir, The Grand Poobah of Grand Cru, The Sultan of Sustainability, but most of all he is The Purveyor of Pure Imagination and Pleasure.

Back in the Libertines Cellar, the music pumps, our wine glasses glisten, and the conga line grows longer as JCB admonishes us to raise our hands for yet another round of La lala! La lala! La. La. La!  The scene is so deliriously euphoric it’s like a nerve gas of sheer joy has been pumped into the air.

The message is simple: Enjoy yourself, revel in the excess, give yourself over to the absolute pleasure of wine. It’s a command, an invitation, and in the world of JCB--a credo.

No matter where you visit; be it Raymond Vineyards in Napa, Buena Vista in Sonoma, or now at DeLoach, you will eventually be compelled to give in and release yourself to the wine, the place, and the absolute pleasure of experience— JCB won’t stand for anything less.

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