Debonair, charismatic, seductive. These are the three words that Jean-Charles Boisset chose to describe his No. 7 bottle of signature pinot noir. However, the terms could also be used to illustrate his new JCB Tasting Lounge at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco. At the lounge, Boisset, a native of Burgundy who runs a multi-country vino empire that includes more than 15 wineries, serves rare and exclusive wines from his JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset line. A Frenchman with a California sensibility and a penchant for parties, Boisset could be characterized by the earlier-mentioned adjectives, too. There is nothing subtle about Boisset, his wines or his latest tasting room — and that’s one of the things we love most about the gregarious wine label. Read on for three other elements we find enchanting about one of San Francisco’s swankiest, reservations-recommended new spaces.
Walk through the glass door and into the intimate space and you feel as if you have stepped into Boisset’s opulent French parlor. Everywhere you gaze there is glitz and glamour, metallic and mirrors, crystal and color. With purple velvet couches, a mirror-top table that seats eight, a bar cut from shiny eggplant acrylic and stools lined with gold fringe, the place is sumptuous, sensual, decadent, indulgent and downright over-the-top. While details like leopard print carpet typically are far too much, Boisset somehow manages to make the lounge feel cozy, chic and classic. You’re essentially invited to a secret wine club with so much fabulousness flowing about that it’s hard not to get caught up in the tantalizing spirit of the space.
The wines on offer come from the JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset collection and other Boisset family wineries, like Domaine de la Vougeraie Bâtard-Montrachet and Buena Vista. Wine lovers have the opportunity to choose from three flight options: a champagne tasting with four healthy pours of bubbles; a chardonnay and pinot noir flight with five selections from the JCB and Domaine de la Vougeraie labels; and a flight of five of the best JCB wines, including Surrealist, which is a red blend cabernet sauvignon that is amazingly light and well-balanced with a silky finish. The Surrealist bottle is clear with a jewel-like emblem and crystal Baccarat bottle topper. It’s meant to be kept forever and can be used as a decanter. Another exceptional bottle: No. 39 JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset. Named for the year that Boisset’s grandparents were married, this lovely brut from Burgundy is a buttery, luscious option.
At the JCB Tasting Lounge, you can add a culinary element to the tasting. The hotel’s Four-Star Parallel 37 is run by chef Michael Rotondo and he’s created a special menu to enhance the wine-tasting experience. Kitchen highlights include an artisanal cheese platter with a heaping plate of grilled sourdough, a caramelized fig, Serrano ham flatbread, caviar and other savory bites meant to pair with the pours. The melt-in-your-mouth crab cake and wildly delicious flank steak steam bun with horseradish and date jam are two more examples of must-try scrumptiousness.