I posted last week (see my Tuesday 3 November entry) about the delicious 2008 Chateau Pradeaux Rosé. Since then, I have tasted my way through the 3 red vintages available to me, and they were all pretty damn good, if rather young. Even the 2003 red was lovely when first opened, with lots of fruit but none of the overtly baked richness and green tannins of many wines from that very hot year. In fact, it was glorious! Unfortunately, those green tannins did appear a couple of hours after opening and I (and my trusty tasting buddies) came to the conclusion that they wouldn't help the wine to age gracefully. So that one is a miss. However, the 2001 and 2004 are winners (for quite different reasons)..........
Chateau Pradeaux 2001 Bandol
A medium-dark blood red core, leading to a slightly amber/orange rim, with all sorts of shades inbetween. Despite its 14.5% abv, it is relatively light in texture. The nose is initially a little dumb and monolithic, but it then begins to open up and become much more expressive, with notes of black cherry and bramble, dark chocolate, cedar, tobacco and undergrowth. There are also some nice herby notes, particularly oregano and thyme, and a warming whiff of eau de vie. The palate has flavours of bramble fruits and christmas cake, with background notes of chocolate and red meat, herbs and spice. It is full of richness and fruit, but possesses ample acidity and a healthy backbone of ripe tannin. This is a wine which can be enjoyed now, as long as it is accompanied by a rich, meaty dish, but will reward cellaring for another 5 to 10 years. Bordeaux meets Chateauneuf, perhaps? A potentially great wine, from a great vintage.
Chateau Pradeaux 2004 Bandol
This one is from a much more "normal" vintage, as the 13.5% abv proves. Deepish blood red in colour, semi-transluscent. On opening, there is a whiff of farmyard (at first, I thought brett) but this blows off very quickly to reveal some quite Chateauneuf-like aromas of red and black fruits, garrigue herbs and red meat, with further notes of undergrowth, crystallised fruits, vanilla, sandalwood and leather. The palate is packed full of fruit, although - having only just been bottled after 4 years in large (old) oak foudres - the tannins are still very prominent. This is countered by a herby, mineral quality and fabulous acidity. In other words, a beautifully balanced and fresh wine. Again, this can be drunk now, but needs hearty food to show its best. This is excellent, traditional Bandol (from one of the oldest and most traditional estates) which needs time, but will be perfect after 10 to 15 years of ageing.
The projected prices for the 2001 and 2004 will be £25.75 and £19.75, respectively. The 2008 Rosé will be £14.95. I have them on order now (along with new vintages of my other Provence growers, Domaine de Trévallon and Chateau d'Estoublon) and can't wait to get them listed and unleash them on my customers!