Summary of Grower Visits – Part VII

Posted on Posted in Articles, Chateau Pradeaux, Chateau Simone, Domaine du Bagnol, Neal speaks!

PROVENCE

Chateau Simone:
I spent a delightful morning with Florence and Jean-Francois (known as “Jeff” to Florence!) Rougier after departing from the early morning visit with Sylvain MOREY. The deep dive into Simone started with a trio of vintages of Grands Carmes Blanc. The 2017 displayed a vibrant freshness that I found quite appealing, an aspect of this wine that I have not noticed before. This would appear to be a function of vintage as the ‘17 lacks the voluptuous maturity of prior years. The 2016 was quite good, standing somewhere between the leaner minerality of the ‘17 and the lush tropicality of the prior 2015 which is particularly dense and rich.

The Simone Blanc 2015 soon to reach our shores is a masterpiece laced with a tonic core prettified with notes of “agrume” (citrus); i/e. a rich wine from a ripe vintage with outstanding length.

We recently received the 2016 Grands Carmes Rosé to fill the gap while we await the imminent release of the compelling Simone Rosé 2017. The ‘16 GCR is typical of the Rosés from Simone with its almost grey-tinted color and severe and pointed mouthfeel stretched across its mineral base.

The upcoming Simone Rouge 2014 is lovely, filled with spice and supported by gentle tannins that should make for very pleasant drinking in the near term.

The more we work with this estate the more enjoyable the experience becomes. The Rougier family is unique and can be sometimes challenging but the dedication to its stature is unmatched and for this they collectively deserve our ongoing commitment.

Chateau Pradeaux:
Going from the impeccable cellars and manicured lawns of Chateau Simone to the bazaar of Chateau Pradeaux makes one topsy-turvy. But, each has its charms and, as a duo, these two ancient domaines provide us with the finest wines of Provence. Etienne Portalisis flourishing as the new leader of Pradeaux. His openness to our suggestions and willingness to execute on bottlings like the 2007X and the Vespree are further distinguishing our portfolio. Their future is bright even to the point of spying new foudres in the cellar! The quartet of upcoming vintages in red provide a roller coaster ride. The 2017 is a pretty wine with deep color and rather supple (for Pradeaux!) tannins. The 2016 is the next CLASSIC Pradeaux; i.e., large, powerful , forcefully tannic, a masterpiece. The 2015 is not far behind the ‘16 … stern, rigid, tannic but perhaps lacking the almost brutal force of the succeeding vintage. In contrast, the incoming 2014 is the easiest of the four wines we tasted. This vintage was plagued by rain at harvest time with the result that the wine is more fluid. There is none of the tannic bluster that is so frequently the mark of a young Pradeaux. A drinkable Pradeaux on arrival … a rarity for sure.

Domaine du Bagnol:
A beautiful gem of an estate in the hands of a delightful family. The Cassis Blanc has been elevated in quality over the past several vintages and it shows more character and breed with each succeeding vintage. It is a wine that remains marked by its terroir as expressed through Clairette and Ugni Blanc. And what a terroir: vineyards settled in the Combe immediately below the Calanques the limestone of which bristles in the wine. The Rosé , a classic mix of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsault, needs no further remark. This wine is now in the “allocated on arrival” category.

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