August 08, 2017

Europe '17 - Bandol and Ch. Pradeaux

Finally, Provence. 

From the southern Rhone we spent the night in Aix en Provence, enjoying a late dinner of galetes, salad and cold rose. Then gelato on the main square, crowded with people near midnight.

The entrance to Ch. Pradeaux a few miles northwest of Bandol
In the morning we headed to Bandol, walking down the sea front in a light misty warm rain, then lunching under an umbrella at a terrific, nameless bistro off the main road.

Then, Pradeaux. I first came to love Bandol through Kermit Lynch and Domaine Tempier in the mid-'90s. Even though I found many other producers, Bastide Blanc, Le Galatin, Pibarnon...and Pradeaux.

Walking around the side of the main house, faded country grandeur

Imported to the US by Neal Rosenthal, Ch. Pradeaux is about the oldest of old school Bandol I know. Even Tempier had modernized in ways I don't taste at Pradeaux. That doesn't mean the wines are unclean. I mean they have no gloss, no apparent (negative) craft about them. They're what we used to call real wine.

Vines out front in the rocky, light brown soil

We pulled our car around back and got out to another chorus of cigale buzzing almost alarmingly loudly. The chateau is a lovely country home, with terrific detail now aging, but cool inside on a suddenly warm day.


In the small tasting room off the courtyard, we met Etienne, one of the sons of the family that owns Pradeaux and clearly very involved. I think his wife was pouring for us, and we spoke a bit as we could about the wine making. I honestly didn't understand too much.

Graceful palm at the courtyard entrance
I'm only familiar with the Bandol AOC wines but we had a lovely Vin de Pays du Mont Caume rouge from what did not taste like any international grapes. Then a recent vintage of Rose and Rouge from the second wine, Les Lys du Pradeaux. Both were lovely and fresh. 

Then, the '14 Rose Pradeaux which was mature but lovely in a lightly rusting kind of way. I bought one was turned out they sold the '13, which was a little more advanced than I like when we tried it in Nice a few days later.

Some younger looking vines, surely for the early to market cuvees
Finally, the '12 Ch. Pradeaux Rouge. I asked about Longue Garde but that was not to be. The Rouge was more approachable than I expected, or Les Lys is more substantial a second wine than I might have thought. Grippy tannin in the Rouge of course, but so stony and firm, I love this and must get some locally.

We didn't stay long, we had some distance to cover still, but how special to spend just a few hours in Bandol and experience the water front and then such a grand cru of Mourvèdre. We left thinking - as with most stops on the trip - we must return!