“Perhaps no Bandol is as resolutely old school as Château Pradeaux. It’s an uncompromising wine, displaying Bandol in its fully untamed state, and it’s a personal favorite” Eric Asimov, New York Times.
I am thrilled to get a new shipment in from the Portalis family of Chateau Pradeaux.
The Portalis family have been making wines at Chateau Pradeaux since 1752, but the modern chapter, if we can call it that, began just after the Second World War, when the Domaine was brought up from its knees during the occupation by Arlette and his mother, Suzanne. Times were tough but so were they. Not that there was much choice. There was no money and the success that Bandol achieved as a region was in the past. It had been nearly wiped out by Phylloxera. Everything had to be replanted.
It was Arlette Portalis and Lucien Peyraud of Domaine Tempier that jointly created the appellation in 1941. Their insistence on replanting the traditional Mourvèdre was crucial to the gradual resurgence of the region and their relationship and shared philosophy pushed the region forward and encouraged newcomers like the Bunan family and Henri de Saint-Victor of Château de Pibarnon to carry on the flame. If perhaps Domaine Tempier have greater recognition today, that may be attributed to the admirable storytelling and mythologizing of Lulu and the family by Kermit Lynch, Jim Harrison and Alice Walters in the United States. There has always been an awareness that it was a lifestyle and a philosophy for good living for sale, not just a wine.
Yet, as Eric Asimov reminds us. there is no more traditional and classic wine being made in Bandol today then Pradeaux and if the wines demand bottle age to show their best, well, that’s just the way it is. They are the kind of demanding wines that are not always appreciated by everyone, a little like the wines of Levet in the Northern Rhone – they need patience, and they are wild. They possess, in the words of John Bonne ‘feral intensity’.
Whoever it was who said that Pradeaux was the ‘Chateau Latour’ of Bandol, may well have been a wine merchant trying to sell the wines, but I think he’s onto something. Like Latour, it is the manliest, most stubborn wine of the appellation, but one that can hit the highest notes when mature. Indeed, when old Pradeaux has been inserted into many tastings of old Bordeaux, it has acquitted itself brilliantly.
Not only does it make the longest-lived red, it makes in my opionion, the greatest Rose in Bandol – more structured then Tempier, which is clearly a redoubtable classic, but one that risks becoming a bit ubiquitous these days. Both wines suffer the same problem of being drunk too soon – I cannot over-emphasise what a difference a year or two in the cellar makes to these wines. John Bonne writes “Their rosé remains a standard bearer for all the feral intensity of Mourvèdre and quality has been on an upswing for the past decade”.
Inc Duty & Vat
Bandol Rose Chateau Pradeaux
Bandol Rouge Pradeaux