2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve des Celestins Henri Bonneau

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Average critic rating : 94.0 points



Like the Marie Beurrier, the 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape Reserve des Celestins shows the sunny warmth of the vintage with its killer perfume of sweet red and black fruits, pepper, smoked herbs and Provençal garrigue. Medium to full-bodied, sexy and with ripe tannin, it's not a blockbuster, but is about as Provençal as it gets. It will drink nicely right from the get-go and I suspect not shut down.

My tasting with Henri Bonneau is always one of the highlights of my two weeks spent working in the Southern Rhône. As I’ve said before, the cellar conditions here are incredibly dirty, but the elixir that comes out of the barrels never ceases to amaze. However, I will say it’s incredibly difficult to really know what you are tasting and when it will actually see the inside of a bottle. For each vintage, I taste just two barrels, a young vines and a selection from La Crau. I expect the young vine sample to be the Cuvee Marie Beurrie, but it might very well end as just the classic Châteauneuf du Pape. The selection from La Crau is always a more impressive barrel sample and has more depth, richness and concentration. In great vintages like 2010, I’ve no doubt this will end up being a Reserve des Celestins release, yet in 2013 for example, I suspect this will end up either in the Cuvee Marie Beurrier or in a straight Châteauneuf du Pape bottling. Looking at the vintages tasted here, the 2010 and 2012 are clearly superior, but 2011 continues to impress as well, although I believe Henri finds this vintage too soft and forward for his tastes. The 2010 should be the next vintage readers will see on the shelves. It’s a great vintage, and while these wines are not easy to find, it’s worth the effort. Oct 2015, www.robertparker.com



Bright ruby-red. Far more expressive than the Marie Beurrier, displaying a wild array of candied red fruits, flowers and Asian spices, along with an intense mineral overtone. Silky, sweet and pure on the palate, offering intense raspberry preserve and spicecake flavors and a jolt of lavender pastille. Closes long and sweet, with building spiciness and smooth, harmonious tannins that sneak up late. Apr 2015, www.vinous.com

One of the legends of the Rhone, Bonneau is the 12th generation to produce wine in Chateaunef du Pape and is now aided by his son Marcel.

Bonneau own 17ha of vineyard, including 5.2ha in La Crau, Chateauneuf’s finest terroir and 0.75ha in the stony Couthezon. Production here is tiny, with a total of 1,500 cases in a good year. If the vintage isn’t deemed high enough in quality then a wine isn’t produced or it is declassified. Unusually for Chateauneuf, Bonneau leaves the stems in, providing structure, texture and character to the wine.

The top cuvee is Reserve des Celestins – a huge, formidable wine bottled without filtration and released only when deemed ready (generally after 6 years in old oak). It has an unsurpassed power and richness and it is without doubt one of the finest of all Chateauneufs.

“…if someone were to ask what is the quintessential traditionally styled Chateauneuf du Pape at the highest quality level, the answer can only be Henri Bonneau’s Reserve des Celestins.. Henri Bonneau is one of the planet's greatest and most distinctive winemakers…the appellation’s greatest guardian of traditional winemaking. Long live Henri Bonneau!” Robert Parker

Cuvee Marie Beurrier is a slightly lighter bodied, more elegant and feminine wine, but is still fuller than most.

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