Who Are the Two Greatest Producers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape?

Who Are the Two Greatest Producers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape?

If you don’t know Henri Bonneau and Chateau Rayas, they belong at the same table as the old school classics like Noël Verset of Cornas, Soldera of Montalcino, and Jayer of Burgundy – legends whose wines have remained true to their roots without ever wavering towards trends and points. While nowadays, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is home mostly to high alcohol, actually sweet, and wines that we rarely crave the wines of Bonneau and Rayas are the two that belong in any great collection. Here’s what to know.

Henri Bonneau

From his first vintage in 1954 to his last in 2015, Bonneau was responsible for some of France’s great wines, though he has always remained shrouded in mystery. As we often say of the ‘old school’ – they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. The wines are based primarily on grenache and in the hands of Bonneau it produces the Burgundy-like lightness and softness found only when it is not pushed to be. Legend aside, you’ll like this if you like full-bodied reds like Rhône blends and Bordeaux, but appreciate the detail and finesse of Burgundy too. Here is a breakdown of some of his different cuvées:

Shop Henri Bonneau

Henri Bonneau, ‘Les Rouliers’

‘Les Rouliers’ is Bonneau’s multi-vintage blend. It’s never exported to the U.S and found only in France’s best restaurants (or the homes of Bonneau’s close friends). It’s a little bit easier drinking than Châteauneuf, but still hearty and warming.

Henri Bonneau, ‘Les Rouliers’ NV

Henri Bonneau, Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Reserve des Celestins’

Celestins comes from Bonneau’s vines in La Crau, a boulder-strewn vineyard that produces Châteauneuf’s biggest wines. The powerful vineyard coupled with Bonneau’s daringly late picking, make this always a fabulously rich wine..

Henri Bonneau, Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Reserve des Celestins’ 2012

Henri Bonneau, Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Reserve des Celestins’ 2011

Henri Bonneau, Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Cuvée Marie Beurrier’

Cuvée Marie Beurrier comes from lighter, sandy soils (like Rayas), and is always Bonneau's most floral and elegant wine.

Henri Bonneau, Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘ Cuvée Marie Beurrier’ 2011


Château Rayas is a winery visit for collectors equivalent to a private tour of the Vatican, Pyramids, and Taj Mahal. For the religion of drinking wine, it’s a mecca. Rayas is a wine of surprising delicacy. It’s subtle texture and intense aromatics make it one of the most distinctive wines in the world. Their secret to success is said to be the fault of sandy soils, only using grenache, and very low intervention winemaking. This recipe is now emulated by many across other regions claiming to be the Rayas of wherever they may be. Much like a New Jersey ‘Villa’ having its version of Sistine Chapel, there is only one, and it’s as remarkable. The wines of Château Rayas, Château Fonsalette, and Château des Tours, are all made by the same winemaker Emmanuel Reynaud.

Interested in Rayas or any of the other wines? Click here!

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