The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has imposed a five-day suspension of the basic operating permits of San Francisco-based importer Jean-Claude Boisset USA, owner of the Joliesse Vineyards brand. The company is being penalized for selling 41,000 cases of Joliesse varietal wines from France and California with Napa Valley neck capsules.
An ATF officer first noticed the irregularities, and the subsequent investigation determined that Boisset USA's advertisements implied that the wines originated in Napa Valley. The Napa capsules were on 27,000 cases of Merlot Vin de Pays d'Oc 1995, from southern France, and 14,000 cases of 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and white Zinfandel from the broad California appellation.
"It does seem that in the last couple of years we've seen more instances of infractions involving geographic areas," said ATF public information officer Marti McKee.
Following the ATF inquiry, Boisset changed the capsules on 35,000 cases of the wines, according to vice president Alain Leonnet. The suspension effectively closes Boisset and Joliesse from May 18 through May 22.
Boisset USA produces more than 150,000 cases a year of Joliesse wines; its portfolio of California wines also includes Christophe, William Wheeler, Lyeth Estate, Fog Mountain and Oceana. In addition, the company imports Beaujolais, Burgundy and French country wines. Its parent company is Grand Vin Boisset of France, the Burgundy wine giant whose holdings include F. Chauvenet, Jaffelin, Mommessin and J. Moreau & Fils.