The history of the estate is storied: archaeological excavations at the site have revealed traces of occupation as early as the Middle Neolithic period (3000 BC). The property is home to a former Benedictine priory that dates back to the twelfth century, as well as a farm that has been certified as an inhabited place in the fifteenth century and was, quite possibly, an extension of the monastery. Further attesting to its historical significance, Fontbonau is named on the map of Cassini, a famed French map drawn in the 18th century on the orders of Louis XV.
In April of 2008, childhood best friends Frederic Engerer and Jerome Malet took ownership of this 42 hectare property with the hope of reviving the estate and celebrating its storied past. It would be their second project together. Malet was born and raised in the winemaking business, having seen his grandfather and later his parents continue the family tradition as winemakers. When he was just 30 years, after several years spent traveling France and exploring wineries and winemaking technique, he took over the family Domaine. Engerer’s story also began in his youth when, at just six years old, his grandfather Pons, who worked as a merchant in Norbonne, introduced him to wine and winemaking. His formal career in wine began at age 26, when he opened a wine bar in Paris. Today Engerer serves as President of Chateau Latour in Pauillac, where he has been for the past 15 years, as well as General Manager for the remainder of Francois Pinault’s wine properties, including Chateau Grillet, Domaine d’Eugenie, and their most recent acquisition, Araujo, in California.
Together Malet and Engerer are committed to the implementation of organic viticulture, varietal expression, and crafting new cuvees from year to year that reflect the vintage’s unique personalities.