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Neal Rosenthal’s portfolio is littered with unique and special wines, but among them are a small handful of true one-of-a-kind masterpieces, like Bea's Sagrantino, Capellano's Pie Rupestris, or Fourrier's Clos St. Jacques. Chateaux Pradeaux's Bandol,... Read More
Neal Rosenthal’s portfolio is littered with unique and special wines, but among them are a small handful of true one-of-a-kind masterpieces, like Bea's Sagrantino, Capellano's Pie Rupestris, or Fourrier's Clos St. Jacques. Chateaux Pradeaux's Bandol, though far less expensive or famous than any of those wines, truly deserves to be recognized as one of those masterpieces.Pradeaux is unlike any other Bandol made today, as they are the only producer that continues to make wines exactly like they did two or three generations ago. The Bandol rouge is vinified in cement, then aged for years in huge, century-old Alsatian foudres. The Chateau is the only producer in Bandol that we know of who employs 100% whole clusters.The grapes -- 95% Mourvedre -- come from organically-farmed vineyards with limestone-clay soils that lie by the sea. The Mediterranean plays a crucial role, imbuing the wines with tension and definition that are essential elements for graceful aging.Tense and defined, yes, but also rich and gutsy. In top vintages they can be rather backward and need time in the cellar. The wine-maker at another, quite famous Bandol producer once told us that he wished he could make wines like Pradeaux, but was concerned that the market wouldn't understand them. But Pradeaux has had no trouble finding customers who understand their wines.The genius behind Pradeaux since 1983 has been Cyrille Portalis, who has just retired. The magnificent 2015 is one of his last wines ever. To us, the situation reminds us a bit of when the old guard retired in the Northern Rhone and their wines went from absolute bargains to impossibly expensive unicorns.