Château La Bonnelle is located in the township of St. Pey d’Armens, just outside Saint Émilion proper, and is rated Grand Cru in the official classification. It is owned by M. François Sulzer, whose family have farmed the property for generations; his son Olivier has been the manager and winemaker for over ten years. The château itself dates back to the 19th century, and the vineyards extend over 32 acres, of which 80% are planted in vines older than 40 years old. Although their yield is quite low, the vines give exceptional fruit and concentration, especially in great vintages like 2005.
According to the soil type, the Sulzer family has planted the property in 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard is mostly composed of siliceous clay, with some sand and gravel banks, and is part of the famous Saint-Émilion escarpment. La Bonnelle farms their vines organically, and no chemical fertilizers are used.
Following a brief cold maceration, vinification takes place in modern thermo-regulated stainless steel tanks, which are deliberately kept small to keep fermentation temperatures cool and consistent. After fermentation, the wines undergo malolactic fermentation in barrel, and then continue to develop in French oak barriques for another 18 months. Unusual for a Bordeaux wine estate, some of the wood barrels are actually grown by the Sulzers themselves, from forests in the interior.
Chateau La Bonnelle is part of an organization of seven wine estates, which was formed in 2005 from a shared winegrowing philosophy along with common marketing strategies. The seven Bordeaux estates lie mostly on Bordeaux’s right bank, and this is their flagship Saint Émilion.