What are your interests outside of viticulture?
Restoration, of course. Otherwise, I like to discover new regions, new wines. It is always in connection with my job. Until I was about 30, I used to play a lot of sports. I really enjoy engaging with the community actively and being social. I don't like being alone, I always need people around me!
Bernard Bosseau, an independent winegrower and winemaker, comes from the city of Nantes in Brittany. Although he is himself the son of winegrowers, at the end of compulsory schooling, he decided to take a different path and obtained a certificate as an electrical technician. However, he was soon called back by his parents' profession and then studied viticulture-oenology in Bordeaux. During his studies, he met the woman who would become his wife and decided to follow her to Haute-Savoie in 1989. That's how he arrived in Switzerland, to begin his wine-making adventure. After working for various employers, he took over the management of the Domaine de la Planta in Dardagny from 1997 to 2017. Since 1 January 2018, he has been managing the plots of the Sézenove estate belonging to the Bocquet Thonney family. Nevertheless, the wines he produces there bear his signature and therefore belong to him.
Which associations do you support?
There is the Auxilium association. We are 7 members and we organize meals for the benefit of a Geneva organization that helps children. They can be hospitalized children, autistic children, blind children, from here or elsewhere. At the end of the meal, we organize a big raffle, and then we donate the total proceeds (between CHF 15 and 20'000.-) to the association of our choice. Each year, we elect one of them on the basis of a dossier. To do so, the association must demonstrate how the proceeds will be useful to it. If we judge the project to be coherent, then we select it.
Are there others?
Yes, for work, I am part of the AGVEI (Geneva Association of Independent Winegrowers and Winemakers) of which I am the vice-president. I am on the committee of the IVVG (Geneva vineyard and wine interprofession) and I am vice-president of the OPAGE (Geneva agricultural products promotion office).
What is your best memory on the estate?
In 2014, during one of my friend´s birthdays, we did a blind tasting. At a certain point, a red wine was presented. My estimate was a burgundy from the years 89-91. When I revealed the identity of the wine, I could hardly believe it: it was a Château-La-Tour 1964, the year of its birth. A magical bottle! From that day on, I knew why I was doing this job. It just confirmed my choices in life.
If you had to describe it by taste, what was this wine like?
Way too much emotion! This wine was 50 years old but it looked 30 years younger. It was still very colourful, purple, no notes of oxidation on its colour, no brick side, an intense black. On the palate, it was still very harmonious, very fruity, the tannins melted, silky. We knew that it was no longer young, but it was still superbly well-preserved. To imagine, it's as if an elderly person the age of 80 was still running a marathon in two and a half hours!
Have you ever felt the same sensations for one of your wines?
I don't know about the same taste, but the same feeling of excitement, yeah. I remember in 2014 or 2015, after a meeting at the OPAGE, the director took out a bottle for the aperitif. I had a drink and was amazed and found the wine superb, very balanced. We knew it wasn't from the previous day, but it was still very fresh and sparkling. It was my 2008 Chasselas. So for a wine with a reputation for not being able to be kept for long, it was a real surprise! I said to myself, "I did this?".
Bartholomew for two people in love and Chasselas with friends during a fondue and then voila!
What were the most difficult years on the estate?
The first years from 97 to 99 approximately. There were no harvest problems, but the price of bulk grapes was extremely low in those years. I had not yet developed my sales, and I was only making 15-20,000 bottles. The remaining 60,000 liters flowed out in bulk. It was complicated to live with sales costs lower than the cost price. Fortunately, I was a teacher at Changins at the same time as the operation. This is what kept me going, because the income from the estate alone was not enough.
How did you bounce back?
To make ourselves known, I started selling vines during these years. When a customer bought a vine, they were entitled to one bottle per year for 10 years. When I handed over the estate at the end of 2017, there were 1,300 vine owners on the estate. Each had their name under the plant belonging to them.
Do you plan to try again on the Sézenove estate?
No, I'm thinking of doing a Hundred Club at the beginning of January 2021. It's a bit like the same principles as crowdfunding, but adapted to wine. Given that I need money to finance work in the cellar and that I am not an owner, it seems to me that this is a good solution.
Do you have a wine that is particularly close to your heart?
I have two: the Chasselas, an essential white grape variety and the Bartholie traditional method, composed of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. I hesitate between the two, but in the end I believe that both can be drunk while standing (as an aperitif) or during a good meal. To sum up, the Bartholie for a romantic occasion and the Chasselas with friends during a fondue and then voila!
What do you like about these wines in particular?
The lightness of the Chasselas, its balance and its fragility too. It is a wine that can be drunk at any time of the day or night and always goes very well when it is well made. Chasselas is really a thirst-quenching drink, a flagship product on my estate and one that works well. It was awarded a gold medal this year in the Geneva wine selection. It is a very beautiful product. The bubbles correspond to my history, to my arrival in the Swiss wine industry. There are bubbles because I love them, otherwise I wouldn't have produced them. It always accompanies such festive moments, either when you're happy to drink an aperitif with friends, or at a wedding, a baptism or a tribute to a lost loved-one. In any case, champagne always gets used at life's great occasions.
You were telling me about your attraction to gastronomy earlier, could you tell me more about it?
Firstly, I cook every weekend. Whenever I have time, I'm at the stove. Besides, I love to shop! It's great to go to the markets, you meet a lot of people, it's a friendly environment. Then there's haute cuisine because I love good food. I'm a gourmet. Sometimes with friends, we go and eat at 2-3 nice restaurants during the year, starred or not, but always well-known.