Domaine Bois de Boursan

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Gilles Gasq, our friend and proprietor of the Domaine La Manarine, situated on the Plan de Dieu in Travaillan and the source of our principal Cotes du Rhone, introduced me to Jean-Paul Versino, owner of the Domaine Bois de Boursan in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a couple of years ago. Gilles, who besides running his own small domaine, has been second in command for many years to Paul Jeune at the Domaine de Monpertuis in Chateauneuf has known that we have been searching for several years to access another source in the Chateauneuf appellation dedicated to producing the most traditional wines of the region. At Gilles’ suggestion, we had lunch one day with Jean-Paul Versino at the Bois de Boursan, tasted a few current and past vintages and discussed the general state of the US market. The wines were impeccable and very much in the style that we sought … honest, without pretension, rich with the ripe, sweet tannins from the skins and pips of organically-grown grapes. We left Jean-Paul with the sentiment that we would be delighted to represent the Bois de Boursan when he determined the moment was appropriate. We spoke again during the early part of 2012 and agreed to begin our collaboration.

The Bois de Boursan, founded in 1955 by Jean Versino (Jean-Paul’s father), is a ten-hectare domaine with the entirety of its vineyards situated within the confines of the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Working all of the permitted thirteen cepages for the appellation, the Versino family manages twenty-seven separate parcels of vineyards. The average age of the vines is in excess of fifty years. The domaine is worked organically without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Further, the vinification is traditional to its core: the grapes for the red are not destemmed, the cuvaison extends for at least three weeks and the elevage in wood of varying size and age is eighteen months or longer. The wines, both red and white, are ageworthy.


Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc: The white wine of the domaine represents about 5% of the total production annually. The grape composition is: Clairette 35% / Grenache Blanc 35% / Roussanne 15% / Bourboulenc 15%. The fermentation occurs in enamel tanks and the elevage extends for six months only before bottling. The wine can be enjoyed young for its freshness but its mineral core reaches its ultimate expression several years later. Certified organic.

Bois-de-Boursan-chateauneuf Chateauneuf-du-Pape Tradition: The classic red of the domaine accounts for approximately 85% of the annual production of the estate. It is composed of Grenache Noir (65%), Syrah (15%), Mourvedre (15%) and a mix of other traditional varieties (5%). As stated above, the grapes are not destemmed, the cuvaison lasts for three weeks and the elevage encompasses an additional eighteen months before the wine is bottled unfiltered. Certified organic.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée des Félix: A special selection of grapes from the lowest-yielding, best-exposed vines is made to produce this elite cuvée which, in years that merit its existence, represents about 10% of the annual production of the domaine. Again, Grenache represents 65% of this cuvée but Mourvedre plays an increasingly important role (25%) while Syrah (5%) and an assortment of other grape varieties (5%) complete the blend. This wine is aged in smaller “barriques” of older origin (two to six years of age). The “Cuvée Félix” is a more tannic and reserved wine than the “Tradition” with additional nuance that appears as the wine ages. Certified organic.

Download Bois-de-Boursan tech sheet
Family/Owners NameJean et Jean Paul Versino
How many years has the family owned the domaine?60 Years
How many generations?2
How many hectares of vines are leased?5 Ha
How many hectares of vines are owned?11 Ha
Are your vineyards or wines Organic or Biodynamic Certified? Certified organic in the EU
Describe your vineyard management practices (e.g. low-intervention, organic, biodynamic, standard, etc.).We work mostly manually in the fields. We plow with a catipillar tractor, harvest is done by hand. We work with very old vines, so we do not need to do a green harvest. Every 3 years we put organic fertilizer during the winter.
Do you typically sell or buy any grapes? Please specify.No
Do you sell off any of your wine en vrac/allo sfuso?Yes ( 20 to 30 percent)
AppellationChateauneuf du Pape
Cepage/UvaggioGrenache, syrah, mouverdre, counoise, cinsault, clairette, roussane, bourboulenc, etc.
%Alchol By VolumeAround 14%
# of bottles produced3000 White, 40,000 Traditional red, 5000 Felix red
Grams of Residual SugarAround 3
Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locationsLa nerthe, blaquiers, chemin de sorgues, font du pape, nalys, saint georges, cabrieres, pieds de baud, etc.
Exposures and slope of vineyardsAll types of exposition, but mostly slight slope, except for 2 parcels.
Soil Types(s)Clay and chalk, with stones 80% Sandy soil 20%
Average vine age (per vineyard)35 TO 115 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)3000 to 4000 by Ha
Approximate harvest date(s)September 10th to October 5th
PLEASE SHARE ANY NOTES ABOUT HARVEST/GROWING SEASON FOR THIS WINE IN THIS VINTAGE2016 Hot and dry summer but a good rain in the beginning of September for a perfect maturity of grapes.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?2015 Average the same as 2016, but less hot. 2014 Some rain in July and August, less hot and less maturity. 2013 Very low yield, and very cold year. 2012 Hot and dry year
% whole cluster, % destemmed80 to 90 percent with stem.
Fermentation: vessel type and size70% Concrete vats, 30%  Stainless steel vats
Duration of cuvaisonAverage 20 to 25 days
Duration of contact with lees4 to 8 weeks
Select or indigenous yeast?Indigenous yeast
Please share notes about winemaking process for this wine. Gentle pump-over every day . Thats it.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Malolactic fermention in vats before blending. White in enamel vat. Red tradition in old oak foudres. Felix in old oak barrels
Duration of elevage24 months for both reds
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US market10 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeNo fining and no filtering for both reds
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Yes, around 20 miligrams free
PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS FINISHED WINE FROM THIS VINTAGE. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?2013 We lost a lot of grapes during the flowering season. And the summer was not very hot. We started to pick 3 weeks later then other years. The yield was 19 HL by hectare. The fermentation was very easy. It’s a vintage with more freshness and acidity. Good fruits, and good minerality. With a good potential to age. We only produced the traditional red, no felix because of the low yield.
AppellationChateauneuf du pape blanc
Cepage/Uvaggio35% clairette 35% Grenache blanc 15% roussane 35% bourboulenc
%Alchol By Volume0.135
# of bottles produced3500
Grams of Residual Sugar2gm
Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locationsBois de boursan, barbe d’asne, la nerthe
Exposures and slope of vineyardsFlat
Soil Types(s)50% sand 50% clay and chalk
Average vine age (per vineyard)50 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)3500
Approximate harvest date(s)September 10th
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?2014 rainy, 2013 cold, 2012 hot and dry
% whole cluster, % destemmed100% whole cluster
Fermentation: vessel type and sizeEnamel vats
Duration of cuvaison4 weeks
Duration of contact with lees4 weeks
Select or indigenous yeast?Indigenous yeast
Please share notes about winemaking process for this wine. Blend of the grapes for the fermentation, temperature control 18 to 21C ,take out sediments , fining with bentonite, aging during 6 months 80% vats, 20% old oak. No malolactic fermentation for the vat.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)80% vat, 20% old oak
Duration of elevage6 months
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US market1 month
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeFining with bentonite.
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Around 4 gms for the fermentation and 3 gms at the end
PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS FINISHED WINE FROM THIS VINTAGE. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?2015 white very good vintage, complex and aromatic, fruity with hints of minerals, freshness and good balance.
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Summary of Grower Visits – Part V

BOIS DE BOURSAN: 2018 was a difficult vintage for Jean-Paul Versino (JPV); harvest began 12 Sept ended 28 Sept; due to extensive mildew throughout the season, he harvested 11.5 hectoliters per hectare; this on the heels of 2017 which yielded another small crop size of 22   (h l/ha).

The 2017 Tradition was harvested between 6 Sept and 26 Sept; excellent balance; 80% stems included; quite fruity with lively acidity/freshness; tannins are well constructed, firm but pleasantly granular; per JPV the ’17 resemble the 1999 and the 2006, both excellent vintages here; a fruitier, rather than animal, version of the BdB Tradition.

Felix 2017: 30% Mourvedre, 60% Grenache, 10% assorted others; very dense; will be bottled in October 2019; very solid, “black” wine of great promise; very substantial.

The 2016 Tradition was just bottled at the end of September 2018; harvest levels @ 28 hl/ha; very concentrated wine with a touch of surmaturité; at 15% abv; very generous, thick, formidable; 90% stems included; per JPV: less “classique” than 2015 … opulent, tannins well rounded, quite flattering, resembling 2007 and 1990.

Felix 2016: a very great wine in my estimation with the touch of animal that I enjoy; quite spicy with notes of crushed black pepper.

We also tasted the quite remarkable 2015s, both Tradition and Felix; the Tradition presents with restraint now, somewhat austere and rigorous; showing excellent potential; 14.2% abv.

The Felix 2015 has a hint of surmaturité in the nose; very long, persistent tannins showing a strong influence of Mourvedre; definitely a wine worth cellaring.

Finally, the “Selection JP Versino” has 15 months more elevage; a wine more elegant than its cousins from the vintage with silkier tannins; only two barrels worth … 600 or so bottles.

DOMAINE DE FENOUILLET: 2018 loss of 15% to 20% of the harvest due to mildew. 2017 production was even worse: loss of 50% due to frost.

Ventoux Rouge 2017 was bottled the day before our arrival (17 Oct 2018); blend of Carignan, Mourvedre, Syrah and Grenache (60%); shipped to us one day later.

Beaumes de Venise Rouge “Terres Blanches” 2017: 60% Grenache / 30% Syrah / 10% Mourvedre ; fine and well balanced with lively freshness in finish ; darker fruits on the nose ; a refined and elegant wine that is clearly one of the best values in our portfolio.

 Beaumes de Venise Rouge Cuvée Yvon Soard 2017: vineyards on the Dentelles de Montmirail; more rich than the preceding wine, offering a complex salad of red fruits on the palate with a dense texture; this cuvée continues to improve as the Soard brothers have reduced the extraction and have harvested earlier to avoid the cooked fruit that occasionally plagued this potentially dramatic wine.

The Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2017 maintains the rigor that makes it the best offering of this kind in the marketplace.. totally under control, no exaggerations ….

CHATEAU VALCOMBE: 2018 was a disaster at Valcombe; 90% crop loss!!! Virtually no red, limited rosé and a bit of white were produced. Life will continue as Luc Guenard has reserved 6500 bottles of the Hauts de Valcombe 2015, a superb and elegant wine that belies its modest appellation.

The Ventoux “Epicure” 2015 is a step up with more material; there remains a small amount of stock of the 2015 for us … about 2400 bottles; blend is 60% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 15% Syrah.

Epicure Rouge 2016 is a more elegant wine than the powerful 2015; bottled in summer 2018; a pretty and quite promising wine that finishes with high-class tannins … impressive!

Luc showed us a special cuvée he produced in 2015 of 100% old vines (90 year old) Carignan; We have the good fortune of working with an intelligent convert to the role of vignerons, a man who is truly dedicated and whose low-key demeanor belies the effort and dedication on view at this domaine that deserves more acclaim for producing sophisticated, unpretentious wines of exceptional value.

BASTIDE DU CLAUX (SYLVAIN MOREY): Here we have the pleasure of working with a truly intelligent and thoughtful vigneron. The more I work with Sylvain, the more I appreciate his approach and the more I enjoy his company. The potential of the Luberon to produce high quality wine is clearly in the hands of Sylvain Morey.

The harvest at Bastide du Claux takes many weeks as ripening in the Luberon is uneven and despite its southern location, the weather can be quite variable and cool. Here are some details on upcoming wines:

“BarabanLuberon Blanc 2017: bottled Sept 2018, strikingly mineral with notes of white grapefruit; undergoes malo; combination of 15 to 70 year old vines; 40% Grenache Blanc, 20% Vermentino, 10% Clairette, 10% Ugni Blanc, 10% Marsanne/Roussanne, 10% Viognier.

“Odalisque” 2016: bottled March 2018, special cuvée has longer elevage; from a parcel with lots of clay (argile); elevage 100% in demi-muids; 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Vermentino, 30% Viognier.

“Malacare” Luberon Rouge 2016: lots of energy in this wine that makes it a delight at the table; 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache Noir, 20% Carignan; 16 months of elevage with half in foudre, half in cement.

“Le Claux” 2016: this from a parcel of pure “argile” (clay); longer elevage in demi-muids; vines are 45 years of age; much more structure to this cuvée, rather broad-shouldered; excellent. 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre.

“Orientale” 2016: 50% Syrah, 50% Grenache; from the eastern sector of Le Claux parcel with very old vines of Syrah; 2nd part of cuvée comes from old Grenache vines; 2 year elevage in demi-muid; bottled August 2018; more rustic, slightly feral in the nose; excellent “finale” with fine tannins; a wine to consider.

Next commentary on Provence to follow shortly …

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