Henri Bonneau, from a lineage of winemakers dating back to 1667 in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region, represented the twelfth generation of his family in the profession. Born in 1938 and passing away in 2016, he was trained by his parents starting in 1961 within the family estate.
Although reserved and of a peasant temperament, the renown of his wines far exceeded his discreet personality. He liked to repeat that "the secret of my wines is that there is none!" while cultivating only six hectares of vines, with modest yields, mainly of Grenache (85%), accompanied by Mourvèdre, Counoise, and Vaccarèse.
Henri Bonneau practiced prolonged aging of his wines, ranging from four to eight or even ten years, and made decisions after regular tastings, conducted on the same date, at the same place, and at the same time. Bonneau's production is characterized by artisanal and traditional methods, with prolonged aging in old barrels, sometimes dating back to the 17th century, in a cellar that resembles a catacomb with its mold and spiderwebs. His son, Marcel Bonneau, born in 1973, succeeded him and perpetuates the winemaking tradition at Domaine Henri Bonneau.
Meeting Henri Bonneau was a unique experience for any wine enthusiast. This exceptional winemaker, brilliant in his craft and mischievous in his personality, continued to produce wines of incomparable personality, outside the trends and influences of the wine industry.
Whether in his aging or bottling methods, nothing was dictated by financial considerations or the norms of modern oenology. Unfortunately, his cuvées, produced in very limited quantities, were extremely difficult to procure.
He produces four distinct wines: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvée Marie Beurrier, Cuvée Réserve des Célestins (the most prestigious), and Les Rouliers (Table Wine). The decision to produce each wine is made years after the harvest, just before bottling, based on perceived quality.
At Henri Bonneau's, magic happens through the micro-oxygenation of old wood over many years. It is this process that allows the wines to stretch, refine, and acquire a silky patina. Although the wines are not necessarily exuberant in terms of aromas, they offer unparalleled sensuality and mouthfeel.
For Henri Bonneau, Grenache is a deep conviction. Other grape varieties are compared to "salt and pepper in the soup." His most emblematic Grenache plot is located in the mythical sector of Châteauneuf: the plateau de la Crau. This exceptional terroir, composed of rolled pebbles and a deep subsoil, retains water and avoids hydric stress, contributing to the creation of a mythical wine: Réserve des Célestins.
Henri Bonneau's wines truly reveal themselves on the palate. Their aromas are often subtle and elegant but never demonstrative. It is on the palate that the experience becomes magical: an incomparable tactile texture, a fatty and silky character, perfectly integrated alcohol content, and long and refined finishes. Their ability to age is also remarkable, making these wines timeless treasures.
Around Châteauneuf-du-Pape, there is much to do for wine enthusiasts as well as those looking to explore the region and discover its charms. Here are some suggestions:
· Visiting vineyards: Châteauneuf-du-Pape is famous for its vineyards and cellars. Take advantage of your stay to visit some local wineries, taste their wines, and learn more about winemaking methods and the region's history.
· Discovering the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Stroll through the picturesque streets of this charming Provencal village. You can admire its ruined castle, which offers a magnificent view of the surrounding vineyards, as well as its small shops and restaurants.
· Excursions in the surroundings: Take advantage of your stay to explore the surroundings of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You can visit picturesque villages such as Gigondas, Vacqueyras, or Beaumes-de-Venise, or go to Avignon to discover its famous bridge and papal palace.