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Dan Aykroyd on his new California wine venture with Jean-Charles Boisset

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I caught up with the comedic legend in Ontario, where he started the Canadian branch of his Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series wines last December. He’s set to launch the Boisset project at a press briefing this Thursday. They’ll be producing Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay at Boisset-owned DeLoach. Both wines will retail below $20 and sell in the 6,000-case range.

SH: What’s your plan with the California wines?

DA: What I’m doing is taking the template of what we’ve done here in Canada, to go to the consumer with a product that’s something I would drink and be proud to put on my table. The idea is the consumer sees my name and knows if he pays $19, $20 he’ll get a good wine experience.

Will you increase production?

That will depend on the consumer’s appetite.

You’re making Cabernet and Chardonnay but not Pinot Noir, which is really what both DeLoach and Boisset are known for.

I’m not a Pinot fan! I love the heavier grape. If he [Jean-Charles] wants to convince me to do a Pinot, it would have to be one I like. I like those big heavy Bordeaux reds and these Chards.

There’s a lot of competition out there nowadays, even for celebrity wines.

I know, and I like it, because we have so many things to compare with. So I’m glad our standards are high. It gives us the opportunity to shoot for these price points and this quality.

Do you collect wine?

My cellar is pretty depleted after my entertaining this summer, but it’s Haut-Brions, Lynch-Bages, Talbots in reds, and in white, Puligny, Chassagne.

Any California in your cellar?

I love Diamond Creek, and some Kendall-Jackson. Dave Ready, Jr. [Murphy-Goode] is a star, and Turley wines, I love those.

I read you might do a beer.

Well, the beer I’m most interested is [Venezuela-produced] Polar, which was in the movie Miami Nights, with Alec Baldwin. I want to import it. Trouble is, Venezuelan companies aren’t talking to American entrepreneurs. So this is a terrible development. But I don’t want to be a manufacturer of beer.

The press release says you’ll be personally involved in the selection process. What does that mean?

That means I’ll sit with Jean-Charles, do some tasting with his winemakers, and say “Push it a little more this way.” I’d like to come out of there with a wine that tastes like [Diamond Creek] Gravelly Meadow.

Then would you ever do a Napa Valley wine?

I think the Napa story’s been told. It’s a beautiful story, but I’d like to break Sonoma out a little more and turn the world on to what’s coming out of there.

Do you think people are more likely to buy a wine from a celebrity? Why?

I think because celebrities can afford quality, and they know great wines, and so can speak with some authority on what they like, because they’re paying a premium for it. I know what I like and I think we can hit a target in there for a very good price point so the American supermarket consumer can go out and entertain 10 people for the weekend and not overpay.

Any chance we’ll see a Ghostbusters wine? I thought about doing a Conehead wine, something with a little humor. At this point, I’ll see how the Aykroyd brand sells. A Ghostbuster wine would have to be like a Pinot Grigio. It would be a great branding opportunity.

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