Henri Bonneau, known as one of the legendary producers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, has died at the age of 78.

(Picture credit: Wine-Searcher)

Tributes began on social media on Tuesday (22 March) after news of the death of Henri Bonneau, who has been described as a ‘legend’ and the dean of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Born in 1938, Bonneau was a 12th-generation vine grower. He was regarded as one of the last old-timers making old-fashioned wines in a cellar in the centre of the village – where one could walk into another world.

‘I met Henri Bonneau at the beginning of my career as a winemaker during Christmas 2003,’  Isabel Ferrando, from Domaine Saint-Préfer in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, told Decanter.com.

‘He received me on 23 December for a tasting, which lasted six hours.

‘Henri was funny, mischievous, naughty, a great man, tender and so Provencal, and his modernity hid in his encyclopaedic knowledge of wine, cellar work and vines,’ Ferrando added.

Bonneau began making wine in 1956 on 13 different parcels covering six hectares, with 5.25 hectares in the La Crau area and 0.25ha in Courthezon, to the north of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

His wines were aged in a combination of old foudres, demi-muids and barrel and were a blend of 90% Grenache with Counoise, Mourvèdre and Vaccarèse in four different cuvees: Henri Bonneau, Marie Beurier, Réserve des Célestins and a very ripe, port-like Cuvée Spéciale only in great vintages.

Domaine Bonneau’s wines are among some of the most expensive on the market from the area. Berry Bros & Rudd was this week selling a magnum of Réserve des Célestins 2007 for £775 (US$1,101).

More to follow.