here are those who love Burgundy, enjoy the wine and pay the occasional visit to the region. Then there are those who love Burgundy, drink the wine and then eventually end up in the region making their own wine. Dutchman Richard Bos is one of the latter.
– My girlfriend thought I had had too much wine to drink when I told her I was going to Burgundy, he smiles.
It was in 2004 that Richard Bos decided to take the plunge. Up until then he had been running a bar back home in the Netherlands. The passion for wine and Burgundy had been there for years, but he never thought about it in terms of making his own wine. He had even gone to wine school in Beaune.
– That year I was in South Africa on one occasion, he explains. I was tasting wine and one guy I met… all he made was something like three barrels. And he was so passionate about it. That was when I realized I should go to Burgundy and make wine myself.
At wine school he had already met Thierry Janots, a Frenchman that would become his business partner. Together they launched Maison JanotsBos in 2005, a small négociant business offering only Bourgogne blanc, Meursault and Saint-Aubin premier cru the first year. They started out in the cellar of Thierry Janots’ house on Rue de Martray in Meursault. Later on, when they had outgrown the place, they would move across the street to the old cellars of Domaine Matrot-Wittersheim. While Richard Bos focuses entirely on their own wines Thierry Janots divides his time between Maison JanotsBos and Domaine des Comtes Lafon.
– Since we are located in Meursault we focus on the white wines of the Côte de Beaune, says Richard Bos. After the first year we found more sources to buy grapes from. Today our annual production is about 80 barrels.
However, it was not love at first sight. At the age of 22 Richard Bos, while getting an education in wine, did his fair share of tasting Burgundy wines. But he was not impressed. Much of it he did not find particularly good.
– I thought it was too expensive, he says. I was reading a book on Burgundy, trying to understand what makes the place so special. So I decided to go to Burgundy, but my impression was pretty much the same. Nothing exceptional. Still, I kept coming back. I became passionate about the pinot noir, a grape variety so difficult to get really good results with.
– Then you also have the combination of both red and white wine in Burgundy. There are not many regions in the world where you have both great reds and great whites. It is also a relatively small region if you compare it with Bordeaux or the Languedoc. Bordeaux is huge. Here in Burgundy you have all these small plots, even in a village like Meursault. Still today I am fascinated by the diversity.
The Bourgogne blanc at Maison JanotsBos comes from vines in Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet. Half from each village.
– For our Bourgogne blanc we use only old barrels, says Richard Bos. We use barrels that have been used for two to six years. In Puligny-Montrachet the grapes come from a plot called Champ Perrièrs and in Meursault from Les Pellans. When you leave Meursault, heading towards Puligny-Montrchet, you have Les Pellans on your left. One part of it is regional appellation, one part is village appellation Meursault.
In Meursault they produce both straight village appellation Meursault and premier cru Meursault from Les Bouchères. The village appellation wine is a blend of Les Grands Charrons and Les Pelles.
– There is a difference in altitude between the two parcels. Les Grands Charrons is higher up on the slope than Les Pelles, which is down by the Meursault-Puligny road. Our Meursault always has a bit more minerality, even in years like 2006 or 2009, because most of the vines are up on the slope. For the wine we use one new barrel out of seven.
– Like all the premier crus in Meursault Les Bouchères is facing southeast. It is at the top of the premier crus and it is really stony. It is a wine with a really nice structure.
During his first decade in Burgundy Richard Bos has not changed much when it comes to winemaking.
– I am perhaps a bit more careful with the CO2, he says. When you look at Burgundy in general, especially for the white wines, you can see that people have shorter élevage today. And so do we. For us it is nine to eleven months in oak and then four to six months in stainless steel tanks to settle the wine.
Richard Bos and Thierry Janots work with over a dozen growers. Nowadays there are only small changes in the portfolio. From year to year they produce pretty much the same appellations.
– I visit the vineyards a lot, says Richard Bos. We discuss a lot, which is important. You really need to be involved in what is happening in the vineyards. If you don’t get good grapes you will never be able to make a good wine. For me it is very important to see what is happening in the vineyards during the growing season.
There is a little bit of generic red, Bourgogne rouge, at Maison JanotsBos. But the main part of the production are Côte de Beaune whites. Mainly Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Saint-Aubin, but also some Santenay and Pernand-Vergelesses. There is also one wine from the Mâconnais, a Pouilly-Fuissé.
– Santenay is more of a red wine terroir, explains Richard Bos. If you plant chardonnay there you get richer wines.
© 2015 Ola Bergman