One of Detroit’s native sons, who as a young boy played in The Detroit News pressroom and wore hats made from newspapers, has found his own special niche in the wine world: Jeff Boisineau, 54, caters to loyal sports fans and team owners — and consumers who have discovered his unusual bottles and serious wines inside.
As the son of Jerry Boisineau, once director of retail advertising at The News, Jeff has marketing in his genes.
His elite bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon in heavyweight glass celebrate Super Bowls, Stanley Cups, World Series, NBA championships, World Cup soccer and more, and they run about $150. They are bull’s-eye Cabs made off a premium Napa site.
His playbook wines, about $14 to $19, carry labels of actual football plays — one a diagram supplied by Victor Green, who played strong safety for the New York Jets.
The back label of his Tailgate Merlot that’s dedicated to the Detroit Lions has an ode he wrote to the 1957 Thanksgiving Day game when the Lions beat Green Bay 18 to 6. “For in 57, / The Huge Cat was champion of all … / Silver memories were born.”
He previously promoted pro golfer David Frost’s South African wines and the Italian wines of fashion magnate Salvatore Ferragamo, and before that, he trained with top name bodybuilders, played professional golf and produced programs for CBS and ABC Sports. In recent times, he finally played his wine card and founded J. Arthur Cellars — Arthur is his middle name.
Matt Bricker, a former manager and sommelier at Bacco Ristorante in Southfield, created the blend for the first wine, the “Arthur,” which marries Sangiovese and Merlot.
On a visit to Detroit earlier this summer, Boisineau said, “I never wanted to plant a vineyard.” Instead, he contacted a top vintner on Diamond Mountain in Napa Valley and arranged for him to supply the grapes and make the wines. And what a coup: Diamond Mountain is famous for its full-bodied, age-worthy reds.
Bill Schwab, a partner in The Wine Guy in Bloomfield Hills, sells the J. Arthur line and says: “The Tailgate wines fill a niche that didn’t exist — sporting wines that are high quality.”
Besides The Wine Guy, check D. Vine Fine Wines in Livonia. Any wine shop can order them through Imperial Beverage in Plymouth. Check out online sales at www.winebuyguys.com and type Pro Player in the search box or go to www.victorbgreen.com/wines.
The labeling is all sports, but in fine print on the back, you’ll find the producer, J. Arthur Cellars.
Here’s a sampling:
>>2 Jet Toro Opeq Red Tailgate Wine Lake County Merlot 2009, $13.99: This is smooth, easy-drinking, lovely textured Merlot. Flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, black cherry, plum and brown cooking spices are perfectly integrated with oak and balanced with acidity framed in supple tannins. This bottle, in subtle Honolulu blue and silver packaging, is dedicated to the Detroit Lions, with an ode to a Thanksgiving Day game on the back label. The play is diagramed on the front.
>>21 Blitz Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2011, $19: You don’t find many Diamond Mountain Sauvignon Blancs in this red wine territory, which makes it even more desirable. Lift it to the nose and inhale the perfume of fresh kiwi, grapefruit, orange peel and grass. On the palate, you pick up the viscous mouth feel and complexity that come from oak. It’s a rich wine — one to sip — and a surprise for your guests. The 21 Blitz label shows the diagram of Victor Green’s play.
>>Arthur California 2009, $20: This unusual dry red was blended by Matt Bricker, formerly of Bacco in Southfield. It’s a 50-50 mix of Sangiovese and Merlot, the perfect complement to fine dining, making the Top 100 list at Fleming’s Steakhouse several years back. It’s a juicy, fruity, nicely structured blend, like mashing cherries and plums in your mouth, with a touch of black pepper.