Perplexing Pradeaux

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!


  • Looks interesting David, and I saw the conversation with Leon, hmm.. I still don’t get Bandol wines, a bit too funky for me 😀

  • This was… ah… extremely nice Bandol, Sean; very clean too. You should try them when they are fully mature, a real joy.

  • Nice note, David! If memory serves, I do mention in the tasting note on my website that Pradeaux’s wines – and especially the 2006 – seem more approachable in their (relative) youth, these days. I don’t think they have mucked about with the formula, though there is definitely more fruit and less in the way of impenetrable tannins than in vintages of yore. As far as I am aware, they still do not de-stem, but perhaps the maceration time is less(?) Whatever, this is a gorgeous wine and I am minded to open one myself sometime soon.

    Oh and Sean – “funky” is one thing I have never really found in Pradeaux. In fact – dare I say it – it is more clasically “old-style” and “winey” than the likes of Tempier, Lafran-Veyrolles and Pibarnon. As a Bordeaux lover, it may even appeal to you! 😉

  • People often say old Bandol is like old Claret. I don’t see it myself, but this promises a gloriously pleasure giving future in a way Pibarnon, for example, does not any more. I cannot deny having confused thoughts about this wine, but it is undoubtedly a stunner that will keep and improve.

  • I will buy more, Leon; is my priority wine purchase when the next batch of possessions gets sold:)

    • No need to sell all of your worldly possessions, just to buy my wine, David! But if you must…………. 😉

  • Ah I only need so much Grand Cru Burgundy. Don’t worry about when you finally make it to lunch at Elitistreview Towers, though, there’s plenty left:)

    • Oh, I don’t mind the odd glass of GC Burg, if absolutely necessary. 😉

      By the way, the ox cheek sounds lovely – I must get some.

  • You must, you must – it’s delicious. Slow cook it in beef stock and port with plenty of chopped onions, carrots and celery and you can’t go wrong. Chuck some fried bacon bits and mushrooms in for the last hour of cooking.

  •  I’ve rarely drunk Pradeaux, and I thought even at 20 years old or so, they were still pretty tough. I thought they wetre quite good, but not as delightful as Tempier or Pibarnon. But it looks like there have been some changes, and as Daniel noted, changes for the better. I’ll look out for some. Thanks for an interesting note – you surpassed yourself in your use of entertainingly wacky metaphors.

  • “entertainingly wacky metaphors”, eh? Blame the wine; I am a mere conduit through which the joyous fluid chooses to express it’s existential character.

    Peter, you should go to Leon Stolarski’s website and get some of this – it is precisely the kind of Bandol you would love. It’s like 2001 Pibarnon only more refined, complex and with a far greater ageing potential. It’s the NUTS. He also sells Trevallon, which I know you have an obsession with…. See you soon, I hope.

  • I’m looking forward to some Miguoa 02 which is en route to me right now. Must try some of this.

  • Migoua 02 is up for drinking, I had some a few months back. Quite lovely.