Henri Bonneau

Henri Bonneau et Fils
Rue Joseph Ducos 35, 84230 Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Henri Bonneau (1938-2016) is 12th generation of wine growers. He made his first vintage in 1956.
The domain covers only 6 ha, mainly planted with Grenache that normally counts for more than 90% of the blend and added with small amounts of Mourvedre, Counoise and Vaccarèse. 

Bonneau's wines have among the most famous and the most expensive in the world from Chateauneuf du Pape and even if you are ready to spend the money they are not easy to get hands on. 
You might think that he might have been a wealthy man. If he is you can't see it from his appearence or from his home or cellars. He was a very modest and simple living man.
Most of the money are gone to the people who distribute his wines. People have told him that he could easily take higher prices for his wines, but he refused to do so.

Henri Bonneau decided for each vintage which cuvées he would make.
Sometimes one or maybe up to four. 

Possible cuvées ranked after quality:

VDF Les Rouliers
This Wine is made from vineyards somewhere in Gard. It's normally a wine blended from 2 or 3 vintages and based mainly from Grenache. The son Marcel  has had the responsability for the vineyards. If this wine was not signed as produced by Henry Bonneau et Fils it would probably not has been easy to sell at least not for the price you can see at some importers

Henri Bonneau
Marie Beurrier
Reserve des Célestins
Cuvée Speciale (1990 and 1998)
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His decision about cuvées was several years after the harvest - just before bottling. During a visit in April 2008 certain barrels from from 2003 were marked MB.
The blend of the four cuvées and the treatment in the cellars are not differing. A part of the parcels are situated at La Crau and it's probably from these vineyards the best cuvées are selected. 

The vinification and ageing of the wines is in fact very simple. When the fermentation in cement tanks is finished the wine goes into very old barrels from Burgundy. Here it stays until Bonneau finds it ready to be bottled - maybe after 6, 8 or 10 years.

Henri Bonneau's ageing cellars is from the 17th century and are legendary. You can't find a barrel there less than 20 years old and most of them are very ancient. When you walk around there you fell you are visiting a museum (See photos below).

If you have had the privilege to taste the wines from the barrels you will find them absolutely wonderful and you must admit that you are visiting a master of winemaking. 
You don't have to be an expert in winetasting to conclude this.
Some people prefer an elegant wine, others prefer a wine with much character. Some prefer a young wine, some prefer an old wine. People have very different preferences.
No doubt that all kind of preferences will be satisfied tasting Henri Bonneau's wines. And - and that's important - all vintages, young and older, taste very very good.

What is the secret ? ("There are no secrets" says Bonneau), but there is a very low yield, about 10-12 hl./ha. Harvesting is very late. The maceration is not exaggerated.
Maybe the explanation is that simple?

After the death of Henri Bonneau the domain is operated on - according to the French company register - by his widow, Jacqueline Bonneau (b. 1940), the son Marcel Bonneau (b. 1971) and Regis Charmasson (b. 1971).
Regis Charmasson has for many years been responsible for the vineyards, and has helped in the cellar. He is one of the few people who have a thorough knowledge of Henri Bonneau working methods. He is a kind of director of "company".

Daniel Combin has for a long time the only agent selling Henri Bonneau's wines and has distributed them through his company: DANIEL COMBIN DISTRIBUTION - DISTRIBUTEUR EXCLUSIF DES VINS HENRI BONNEAU ET FILS.
This firm is situated at 7 T, Route du Sel Chateauneuf du Pape.


Henri and Jacqueline Bonneau. Fotographer ? It might be taken 20 years ago.

Below some photos from a visit April 2008. 
The people on the photos are Henri Bonneau, Isabell Ferrando, Philippe Cambie - and the publisher of this site.
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The "estate" of Henri Bonneau (The house with the green shutter.)
Yes, the cellars are behind this building!


Henri Bonneau April 2008. He uses a tastevin for tasting.


Marcel Bonneau. Photo: Jep Dunnock
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Bonneau's "estate", Rue Joseph Ducos 35. (The house with the green shutter.) 
. Foto fra 2008.

 
Distrubuteur exclusif Daniel Combin, the son Marcel Bonneau and Henri Bonneau. Photo: Coste du Rhone (Several interesting photos probably from 2015)

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Updatedt 04-12-2016