Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A very classy rosé wine - Chateau Pradeaux Rosé 2008 Bandol

2 years ago, I visited Chateau Pradeaux, one of the most traditional and famous estates in Bandol. I was impressed with the wines and with the estate itself and, since that visit, Pradeaux has featured very high on the list of growers I would like to have in my portfolio. And yesterday I finally received some sample bottles (3 red vintages and the latest rosé), which I intend to assess over the coming days, before making a decision on which ones to take. Although I usually like to wait a few days for the wines to get over their arduous journey, I have no time to lose, if I am to get some of these wines listed before Christmas. First up was the rosé.

Made from 55% Mourvedre and 45% Cinsault, this rosé has an amazing onion skin/blood orange colour – really beautiful to look at. It is a vin de pressurage, meaning that it is made from a direct pressing of the grapes, rather than the usual saignée (free-run juice) method. The nose has aromas of wild strawberries, orange zest, apples and rose petals, with forest floor, hedgerow and garrigue notes lurking in the background. A hint of pear drops falls away with some air, to be replaced by a nice creaminess, and the aromas begin to meld together into a beautifully clean, complex whole. The palate offers a combination of ripe red fruits and zesty orange and lemon flavours, with a decent amount of acidity and what I can only describe as a minerally, almost tannic backbone, which adds grip and texture. It develops even further after a period of several hours in the decanter, with the aromas and flavours becoming more integrated and intense. Nevertheless, this is a wine that tends towards elegance, rather than power, yet it has a very impressive finish - those tangy, zesty, herby, almost spicy flavours linger for a very long time on the palate.

The problem with many (if not most) rosés is that, in trying to combine flavours at both the red and white ends of the spectrum, they end up being somewhat confected. This one definitely majors on the white fruits, whilst displaying hints of fresh, tangy red fruits, redolent of a light Burgundy – a very successful balancing act. Rosé wines are also normally made in a style that requires fairly early drinking, but Bandol rosés are renowned for their ability to age for a few years. And I think this one will age and improve for a good few years yet – whilst already starting from a very high level indeed. A superb rosé wine, that can only get better.

The only question is, can I sell a rosé at a projected £15.95 per bottle? Well, only time will tell. The Domaine Tempier and Domaine Ott 2008 rosés are both approaching the £20 mark - and Chateau Pradeaux 2008 is more than a match for the rosés I have tasted from those growers.

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