Chateau Maucoil in Chateauneuf du Pape
“They were the third family documented to make wine here,” said Benedicte Bonnet of the family who owned Chateau Maucoil before her parents purchased the estate in 1995. One of the oldest Chateau in the region, Chateau Maucoil’s oldest parts date back to the 1st century, when a Roman legion formed a camp here around a natural spring, today called La Source de Chateau Maucoil. Located in Chateauneuf du Pape in Orange, which is named for the Dutch Prince of Nassau-Orange who resided here in the 13th century when Seigneur Joseph de la Pise first planted vineyards here, the estate is referenced in Pise’s 1,000 page tome entitled, “Tableau de l’Histoire es Princes et Principaute d’Orange”, which sits beneath a glass dome in the winery’s tasting room. It is from this illustrated text that the family drew the inspiration for their wine labels.
Hailing from a long line of winemakers, Benedicte’s grandparents were coopers during the time of phylloxera, and at the beginning of World War II in 1940, they returned to Chateauneuf du Pape to restart production. When her parents married, Guy and Danielle Arnaud joined their properties together to extend the holdings of the longstanding Chateau Cabrieres, which had been in the Arnaud family for generations. When Benedicte’s parents retired, her siblings Agnes and Patrick took over Chateau Cabrieres, where Benedicte had been working since 1997, and Benedicte and her husband Charles Bonnet, took over Chateau Maucoil in 2009.
Benedicte Bonnet of Chateau Maucoil
At this same time, the estate began converting to organic viticulture, gaining certification in 2011. Engaging the same techniques as their ancestors, the Bonnets restored their 60 year and 100 year-old-vineyards. “I was born in the vineyards,” said Benedicte and laughed, “so it’s the only thing I know how to do.” With 28ha in Chateauneuf du Pape, the family sold 1ha last year to purchase 12ha in Cotes du Rhone, where they had previously owned only 5ha. In Chateauneuf du Pape they have a 5ha vineyard that consists of a field blend of the AOP’s 13 allowed varietals, and they also own the only maintained (0.5ha) vineyard that was just replanted beside the ruins of the actual Chateauneuf du Pape (“Pope’s new house”) that was built in 1320. (see below)
“The ‘recipe’ changes each year,” said Benedicte of the Chateau Maucoil Chateauneuf du Pape, “depending on the grapes and maturity,” however, the most recent blend for 2010 was the same as 2009: 60% Grenache (planted to galets), 20% Syrah (planted to chalky limestone), 10% Mourvedre and 10% Cinsault. As one of Benedicte’s “favorite vintages”, the 2010 was vinified in concrete tank and aged in 225L barrels, with 50% spending 9 months in 2-3 year-old oak. With aromas of dark fruit (blackberry, cherry and plum), cinnamon, granite and meat, the Maucoil CdP 2010 is silky and bright in acidity with a touch of savory near the finish.
L’Esprit de Maucoil 2009 is a blend of CdP’s 13 allowed varietals (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Muscardin, Counoise, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Picpoul, Picardan, Vaccarèse, and Terret Noir). Made in only the best vintages from the best selection of the oldest co-planted parcels, the fruit is hand harvested and the yield is minuscule at 10-12hl/ha. Vinified parcel by parcel, L’Esprit was made in very small quantities in 2000, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Working with barrels from four different coopers, Benedicte selects the toasted barrels of the highest quality to age the wine for 12 months, before further aging it in bottle for a few more years before release.
On the nose, L’Esprit de Maucoil 2009 offers plum, black berry, graphite, rose petals, black pepper, cinnamon and savory notes. The palate is fruity with tart cherry acidity; dark, wet earth; and a spicy mid-palate that lingers past the finish. It’s a beautifully integrated and well-balanced wine that is representative of the best that Chateau Maucoil has to offer in the bottle.