Chateau Pradeaux, Bandol AOP, Provence, France 2007, 14.5% abv, US$45.95

Mention Provence and most people conjure up images of the sparkling azure waters of the Mediterranean, olive trees and pink wines.  In this case, the pictures are accurate – except for the wine.  This nectar is the famous red Provencal wine from the tiny region of Bandol that rims those blue waters and is made from the difficult-to-grow Mourvedre grape.

Also known as Mataro or Monastrell, depending on where you’re growing and drinpradking it, Mourvedre is difficult to ripen completely because it requires a long and arid growing season.  In addition, the evenings must be cool so the grapes aren’t overly sweet and the wines alcoholic.  There are not too many places where it does well – which is why it is so suited to Bandol and the Southern Rhone Valley, as well as Paso Robles, California, Australia and its native land, Spain.

Chateau Pradeaux is renowned as one of the stalwart producers of the region along with a few others (like Domaine Tempier).  Established in 1752 by the Portalis family, Ch. Pradeaux sticks by time proven methods which include pressing with stems on (to increase tannins in an already tannic wine), ageing for 4 years in old oak foudres and including up to 95% Mourvedre in its wines.  Others take the easier route to sales by destemming to produce less tannic wines that drink earlier and lower the amount of Mourvedre to the minimum required (50%).

This wine is medium ruby with legs and has medium plus intense aromas of berry, garrigue, black olive and an earthy licorice.  The palate is dry with medium acidity and medium ripe, dusty tannins with light grip.  Its medium plus flavours have medium body and mimic the nose with ripe field berry, olive, rosemary, thyme, earth and licorice fern. It’s got high alcohol, but it’s completely integrated and not boozy in the slightest.

Medium plus length, this WSET ‘Very Good’ wine is drinking perfectly right now; do not hold any longer.

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