Hot on the heels of last night’s Henri Bonneau dinner headlining La Tablée du Rhône, we are thrilled to share some maturing vintages of this Châteauneuf legend. Counting as a peer only Jacques Reynaud at Château Rayas, Henri was for six decades an enduring pillar of quality winemaking in a region still decades away from normalizing that ambition.
Bonneau, a larger-than-life personality as well as vigneron, was essentially a solo act from his inaugural vintage in 1955 to his last in 2015. His wines have long been reference points for traditional Châteauneuf: they possess a savory depth, largeness of scale, and ageworthiness that eludes their peers. And like most truly great wines, they are above all singular, and these renditions of ‘Cuvée Marie Beurrier’ and ‘Réserve des Célestins’ will support the widely-held belief they are the most intensely savory wines produced in the Southern Rhône. At times, the wines can feel more suggestive of a liquefied barbecue than the byproduct of fermented fruit, a quality many have remarked upon along the decades.
A few highlights of this offer include:
2012 ‘Réserve des Célestins’ – One of the strongest renditions of this cuvee in recent memoy, it has always been a remarkably assured and confident exemplar of this legendarily age-worthy wine. Loads of hickory wood/smoke, game, and oodles of rich fruit sum out to a memorably hedonistic delight.
2015 Réserve des Célestins’ – (both in 750 and magnum formats) – Henri’s swan song: his 60th and final vintage. And, as usual, Henri demonstrates the aptitude of his style to warm vintages. As I’ve written before, Bonneau’s extended ageing regimen tends to slim down and refine the inherent richness and power of warm vintages, a counterintuitive but unassailable miracle of élévage. This '15 offers up remarkably rich fruit and texture, the wine peppered with grilled herbs, meat, dried flowers, and a finish more suggestive of stones than fruit. A remarkably transportive wine, you’ll find your mind among galets roulés a few whiffs in.