The appellation's greatest guardian of traditional winemaking - 1998, 2001 & 2007 Bonneau Chateauneuf: Celestins & Cuvee Speciale

Posted by Ian McFadden

"The appellation’s greatest guardian of traditional winemaking" -Robert Parker
Bonneau Châteauneuf-du-Pape:
2001 Réserve des Célestins
2007 Réserve des Célestins
2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
1998 Cuvée Spéciale

The Châteauneufs of Henri Bonneau are singular.

Henri Bonneau is the grand old wise man of Châteauneuf. His wines are unyieldingly traditional - they are time-tested benchmarks, monuments that taste of a different era.

Today, I'm very happy to offer a selection of Bonneau's wines from three great vintages, 1998, 2001 and 2007. This includes his epic Réserve des Célestins from both 2001 and 2007, one of the great, long aging wines of the world.

While I find myself drinking less and less Châteauneuf these days, anytime that I have the opportunity to sit down to one of Bonneau's wines I get very excited. There's a magic and mystery to the wines. Across the board, they are some of the most soulful and captivating wines that I know. They really should be experienced at least once.

These are savage, wild, powerful wines. Incredibly vivid and detailed layers of fruit and spice are wrapped around an intense core of iron, mineral and game which provides these wines with the structure to power through many decades.

The 1998, 2001 and 2007 Châteauneufs are superb, easily the best of the past couple decades.

2007 is a vintage of monumental scale. This helps explain why Bonneau's basic CdP is so elevated in the vintage. Of course, the 2007 Réserve des Célestins is mind-blowing in its grandeur. The 2001 Célestins offers plenty of density and richness, but compared to the '07 it's a bit lighter on its feet.

The rarest and most unique of Bonneau's wines is Cuvée Spéciale. Besides 1998, the only other one was made in 1990. It's a wine of deep texture and insane complexity. Cuvée Spéciale didn't ferment to total dryness and the barely perceptible residual sugar adds dynamic layers of game, minerals and dark red fruits.

Bonneau has a cult following making his wines very difficult to find in any quantity. What's on offer today represents a small parcel that took me much time to hunt down. It's always worth the work, but I should warn you that allocations may be necessary.

To order, reply to or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

Bonneau Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Jeb Dunnuck for the Wine Advocate: "Looking at the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve des Celestins, which was tasted out of barrel at the domaine, it offers up a singular, exotic profile that shows the vintage perfume and freshness, as well as the slightly feral quality of this estate. Kirsch liqueur, roasted herbs, blackberry, cured meats, lavender, incense and ground pepper are just some of the nuances here. This full-bodied, concentrated effort hits the palate with authoritative richness and depth, yet stays incredibly light, fresh and even elegant. Already approachable, with a drop-dead gorgeous texture, it should certainly be worth the extra effort to track down once released."

Robert Parker: "Revisiting Bonneau’s recently released 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve des Celestins is a real treat as this cuvee flirts with perfection. Already revealing some pink and amber at the edge, the color is surprisingly evolved for a wine from this vintage. However, that’s deceptive as the aromatics offer incredible aromas of dried flowers, beef blood, spice, figs, sweet black currants and kirsch, smoked game, lavender, and sweaty but attractive saddle leather-like notes. Full-bodied and massively endowed, with abundant silky tannins, it possesses the balance to age for 30+ years."

Robert Parker: "Bonneau’s 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Speciale is something along the lines of 16.5%-plus natural alcohol with about 4-5% residual sugar. It is an amazing wine that tastes relatively dry, with huge extract of blackberries, roasted meats, and sweet strawberries and cherries intermixed with licorice, smoke and pepper. It makes a massive introduction on the palate and expands vertically, as if it were a skyscraper. It is intense, rich, and compelling, and no doubt capable of lasting 30-40 years. (The 1990 Cuvee Speciale, which has much in common with this wine, is still an infant in terms of its development.) This is a remarkable, but controversial wine."