Henri Bonneau

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

Henri Bonneau died 22 March 2016

Henri Bonneau (born 1938) is 12th generation of wine growers. He made his first vintage in 1956.
His 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 are among the most famous and the most expensive in the world and even if you are ready to spend the money they are not easy to get hands on. 
You might think that he must be a wealthy man. If he is you can't see it from his appearence or from his home or cellars. He seems to be a very modest and simple living man.
Most of the money goes to the people who distribute his wines. People have told him that he could easily take higher prices for his wines, but he refuses to do so.

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

Possible cuvées ranked after quality:

Henri Bonneau
Marie Beurrier
Reserve des Célestins
Cuvée Speciale

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His decision about cuvées is taken several years after the harvest - just before bottling. During a visit in April 2008 certain barrels from from 2003 were marked MB. Maybe this vintage will bring 2 cuvées but you never know if a barrel or two could evolve to a third cuvée. The last bottled vintage of Cuvée Speciale (2008) was vintage 1998.
The blend of the four cuvées and the treatment in the cellars are not differing. A part of his fields is situated in 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 10 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 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?


The "estate" of Henri Bonneau
(The house with the green shutter.)
Yes, the cellars are here too.


Henri Bonneau April 2008
He uses a tastevin for tasting.

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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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Updated 2016-03-27