2016 Chateau Pradeaux, Bandol Rouge, Provence, France.
Etienne Portails’ 2016 Bandol Rouge from his family’s Chateau Pradeaux is a rich and full bodied effort, showing a soulful Mourvedre dominated palate with earthy dark fruits, led by mulberry, black currant, plum and cherry, along with a light dusting of spices and accented by wilted flowers, leather and anise. There is a sense of raw transparency here, no flashiness or glitz, this is pure as it gets, but still the wine charms and beguiles in the glass and opens up nicely for complete enjoyment, even in its youthful form and its firm tannins melt away with food, this is very fine version from Pradeaux. This dark garnet and purple Bandol is a wine of place, first and foremost, and shows pride and passion for its terroir, taking its clues from its limestone influenced Provence soils, adding dimension and savory/stony elements as well as echoing its fruit for a long complex finish. Bandol, one of the great wines of France, often ages decades or more, rivaling Bordeaux, and are great with robust and protein rich cuisine, going great with lamb and mushroom dishes and or hard sheep cheeses.

The Château Pradeaux, run by Cyrille Portalis along with his two sons Edouard and current winemaker Etienne, is situated on the outskirts of the town of Saint Cyr-sur-Mer that lies directly on the gorgeous azur (Blue) Mediterranean between Toulon and Marseilles. The estate has been in the hands of the Portalis family since before the French Revolution and the wines themselves transmit that long history and tradition and Pradeaux has been farmed to organic principles for many years. The estate is all about Mourvedre and this classic cuvée is 95% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache, all whole cluster and with indigenous yeasts the wines then get a long élevage in large oak foudres, in fact they can last as long as four years. The concentration comes from the old vine fruit with the grapes only coming from vines at least 25 years of age, with most much older. The wines of Château Pradeaux are authentic, bold and sometimes rustic, though under Etienne this wines have been elevated and the quality is exceptional, without losing the domaine’s traditional character, as this 2016 shows. I a big fan of the Pradeaux lineup, especially this bottling, which is a stunning value too, plus I can’t seem to get enough of their Bandol Rosé cuvée classique, which is always outstanding.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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