Monday, September 10, 2012

Jean-Charles Boisset shows cojones by mocking Wine Spectator

Jean-Charles Boisset is a dynamic force, coming from Burgundy to buy and transform California wineries and marry Gina Gallo. You'd think he and his wife would be afraid of pissing off Wine Spectator when they have so many bottles to sell. But the man has both a sense of humor and some serious cojones.

The video is my favorite in Jordan's "Real Winemakers Read Wine Spectator Reviews" series. Lisa Mattson's work for Jordan recently won Best Winery Blog and when you see this video, it's no wonder why. Jordan's wines are perennially underrated by Spectator so perhaps the winery feels there's nothing to lose.

I feel a little bad for Spectator's Thomas Matthews because the feature they're mocking, "What We're Drinking Now," is a balance to a weakness I find in the magazine. Spectator's reporting is as good as anyone in wine, but their writing about the wines themselves often seems passionless. Matthews clearly enjoys the wines in these online reviews, and if I smoked cigars I might have written the Madeira review John Jordan mocks in another video myself.

But this one ... well, OK, just let Boisset read it to you:

I also feel a little bad running this just after my poll last week produced some embarrassing results for Wine Spectator, but the video was just released, and what the hell, it's funny. If this feels a little bad for Matthews, may I recommend some grilled prawns and an 89-point bottle of St. Aubin?

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Unknown said...

Hi Blake,

Thanks for the compliments about our video blog. I appreciate you resharing the video from our series.

I do want to provide a little more background:

1) These videos were created for Wine Spectator's annual video contest. Funny videos have made the finals in the past, and I thought the editors might find humor in watching winemakers read their columns -- especially since actors reading yelp reviews videos have been wildly popular this summer.

2) I told all vintners/winemakers I approached about reading on camera that the videos are meant to be an entertaining tribute to the passion and detail wine critics put into their prose--not a mockery. It was all in good fun.

3) Jean-Charles Boisset and Daryl Groom were selected because they are great public speakers, very charming, animated and have great senses of humor. They even recorded personal messages to Tom at end of their readings because they have good relationships with him.

4) I culled through three years of Wine Spectator What We're Drinking Now Reviews and selected the top three columns I thought would read well. Their traditional reviews are just too short and not experiential, so they wouldn't have read well. I also tried to match up the column "theme" with the vintner's personality/shoot location as best as possible. The reason why two Tom Matthews columns got selected is because he tends to write very vivid, lively recounts of his dining experiences. I would have selected only old James Suckling columns, but I know that Wine Spectator would have never considered any of those for the video contest.

Our first blog post on this video series gives the full background.

Thanks again.

Lisa Mattson

Jean-Charles Boisset said...


As an additional comment to Lisa's well articulated reply, we want you also to know that the video was created with our sincere appreciation of Tom Matthews and the Wine Spectator and with a sense of fun and not mockery. We take wine very seriously, but not solemnly. Wine Spectator and Tom Matthews both have our deep admiration and respect. Tom's exceptional writing and passion for food and wine is evident in his reviews, and we sought to celebrate the passion we share with him for the food and wine world. Lisa said it well: we meant it as an entertaining tribute, and not a mockery - a show of appreciation, good fun, and humor to bring more enjoyment to wine.
- Jean-Charles Boisset

W. Blake Gray said...

All due respect, Jean-Charles, you were more fun in the video than in this comment. You too, Lisa.