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Chateau Pradeaux rouge 1998, A.O.C. Bandol.  **HERITAGE WINE**

Colour: quite deep, dark red with some browning in the rim.
Nose:  medium expressive, mature, with many balsamic, spicy, earthy and warm nuances of cedar, sandalwood, provençal herbs, black fruit, flowers, minerals, tobacco, some smoke and a touch of venison, great purity, depth, complexity, elegance (not unlike a great Burgundy), excellent balance, unique symphony of aroma's with lots of refinement, a truly great and classical nose!
Taste: medium-full bodied, a touch of austerity, powerful, concentrated, but with great elegance, purity and balance, lots of strong, but mature tannins, strong acidity, matching alcohol, great core of minerals, earthy nuances, tobacco, smoke, balsamic impressions of cedar, sandalwood (spicy cigar box), a touch of sweetness, multi layered, very complex, great length, a rare combination of power elegance, refinement, concentration, depth and numerous exciting and unique aroma's only to be found in the best wines.
Finish: very long, intense, multi layered, some austere, spicy tannins, with many impressions of spices, herbs (rosemary), cedar, sealing wax, tobacco, tea, earth, flowers, good freshness, a touch of sweetness, elegant.

* This is a truly great and classical wine, mature, elegant, concentrated, complex and deep with strong tannins, great acidity and many layers of balsamic and spicy nuances next to the numerous impressions of minerals, flowers, tobacco, a bit austere, a hypothetical and intriguing mix between a great Burgundy, Médoc and Northern Rhône, with great purity and unique in style, this wine shines without the almost obligatory and so fashionable loads of new oak, super extraction and super (over) ripeness of the grapes of so many other wines considered great these days.

- Showing very well now, will still improve a bit until ca. 2008, may continue to perform well until 2010 - 2015 (difficult to assess, please taste regularly).

- This wine is one of the most classical of France. It is made in the old fashioned way with the greatest care and attention. Mr. Portalis is preserving his heritage of terroir, grapes and wine making in an exemplary way, producing a type of wine that is unique in the world. It is not the easiest wine to understand and it needs time to show its proper qualities and not every vintage reaches the same level of perfection, but in 1998 everything went right.  Produced from 95% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache from old vines (average 25-30 years) yielding 29 hl./ha. The grapes were lightly crushed but not destalked before vinification in cuve during ca. 15 days, malo lactic fermentation commenced in november '98, maturation during 3 years in oak foudres (big wooden vats) of 40-80 years old, bottling in november 2001 without any fining or filtration. In the 22 ha. of vineyards there is an (non certified) organic practice: only sulphur and a solution of copper sulphate are used to combat fungal diseases, fertilization is low with only sheep droppings.
I tasted the wine quite soon after its release on 12-03-2002 and got very impressed with this uncut gem loaded with unyielding and fierce tannins, but with lots of locked up potential, only showing a glimpse of it between the dominant and distracting components of the structure. This wine reminded me of some of the very classical great red Bordeaux of the (nineteen) seventies in their infancy, the same unyielding and closed style with hidden potential. I had a job in convincing one of "my" importers to buy it, which he reluctantly but happily did (he luckily still has a few bottles in stock).  When young it showed potential (at least to some) after a year it went into a very closed-up and dull stage and it took at least another two to three years before it shed its shell a bit and became more approachable, now the time has come to enjoy it.
There are some good Bandols around, all of them expensive,  too often I found Bandols lacking concentration in the middle palate, to many tannins "on the outside" or periphery of the wine, especially the classical versions, some modern wines were very good, but lacking the greatness and the potential complexity and elegance of  Ch. Pradeaux. Compared to the prices demanded by the big names in e.g. Bordeaux this Château Pradeaux offers excellent value for money. The speculative and exhibitionists high premiums set on the "Top" Bordeaux wines' real costs make them frightfully overpriced, the '98 Château Pradeaux demands only its intrinsic production costs.

This wine is a relict, like the Italian I Clivi wines and many others. It is something wine enthusiast need to be aware of and support the producers to carry on making these wines in order to preserve these gems for the worlds' vinous pleasure, we have to cherish our wealthy, but sadly quickly eroding heritage of aroma's and tastes.

- lotnr.: L 2

- tasted: 12-06-’06 (same bottle lasted at least 10 days before declining, the second and third day the wine performed best.

- estimated retail price ca. 22 euro

- production: not indicated

- E.A.R.L. Château Pradeaux Les Heritiers du Comte Portalis, Château Pradeaux, 676 Chemin des Pradeaux, 83270  Saint-Cyr sur Mer, Mr. Cyrille Portalis, tel.: + 33-494 32 1- 21 , fax.: + 33-494 32 16 02, e-mail: