Dinner tonight was ox cheek stew; it didn’t require as long cooking as I expected, only four hours. But it was delicious and filled with meaty goodness and so required a hearty wine. Bandol, I thought.
I have a few bottles of Chateau Pradeaux sitting in my wine fridge and I’m definitely a big fan – classic Bandol for heroes. But tonight I fancied a first taste of a new vintage, 2006, just to see how I get on with that. Let’s dive in.
Bandol 2006, Chateau Pradeaux
OK, before I get onto all the weird DID[ref]DID: Dissociative Identity Disorder, aka split personalities. Split personalities have nothing to to do with schizophrenia,by the way, and if you think they do I will come around and slap you. And so will I.[/ref]-y stuff let me say one thing that is manifestly brilliant about this wine: it will age amazingly well. Give it five or more years and it’ll develop into a soft, scented lovely of grace and charm. It’ll be gorgeous. Right, ready for the insanity? OK, let’s go!
From drinking a lot of 2001 and some 2004 Pradeaux I am used to them being booze-fuelled monsters of terrific tannin and general terror. They were brilliant, old fashioned Bandol that you had to lay down for decades and hope or attack with large knives in the hope of breaking up some of those gum-bleeding polyphenol chains. This is… er… um… NICE! What’s happened? It’s still pretty tannic but those tannins are soft, not powerful enough to turn an entire cow into leather just by showing it the bottle. The booze level is quite moderate too; it’s not going to explode if you put it into a centrally heated room. There’s proper grilled-meat Bandol fruit, but it is sedate and mellow, not spikey and aggressively powerful. This is ALL WRONG. And what is perhaps most wrong of all is that I really, really like it… OOoooohhh… the shame… I feel I am committing some cosmic crime for liking a Bandol that is not as wacked out as the appellation, and this producer in particular, can produce. If someone asked me for a pleasing Bandol wine they could try so see if they liked the appellation I’d recommend this in a grasshopper’s trill. I would then seethe and gnash my teeth that I’d suggested something quite so wonderfully tasty and not a raw Bandol fighting wine experience. This is the best young Bandol I’ve had in years and I will be buying more of it, but couldn’t it just have been a little more frightening? If you do get some definitely age a bottle or two (see above), wines at this price will rarely age with such grace, harmony, refinement and not petrifying terror. Brilliant but… AAAARGH… different and… double AAARGH… better!
Just as an aside, The Editor said, “This is the best bottle of Pradeaux you’ve ever opened; it’s nice and I don’t feel I have to fight it.”
Just as a final aside, here’s the ox cheek stew we cooked. It was freaking brilliant!