a dialogue on Arboreus, Michel and Pradeaux

Posted on Posted in Chateau Pradeaux, Occasional Thoughts, Robert Michel


Beautifully said … bravo!

I am an ardent admirer of the 2009 Arobreus which, I believe, is Bea’s best effort to date of this particular wine.  There is a persistence to its attack and finish that is subtle but remarkable.  I, for one, am not at all surprised by its tenacity over a four-day period.  I have been witness to the same effect.  Thank you for taking the time to communicate this experience to all of us.

As for your request about what we have been drinking lately, let me pass on a quick note about a couple of wines we shared with friends last Sunday …

Cornas “La Geynale” (Michel) 2001 and Chateau Pradeaux Bandol Rouge 1995.  Both were brilliant and in prime condition – at the perfect nexus of age and youth.



The Cornas made a more brooding and restrained appearance at the table; the tannins lurk in the background, growling as a good Cornas will, the color was dark with black tones underneath the luster, the flavors were meaty, raw Syrah but presented in a most distinguished rather than vulgar manner; a wine of dignity and class, a lovely foil to the lamb that was served.  What a master Robert Michel was at this point of his career!

All this praise being said about the Cornas, it was ultimately outshone by the sheer grandeur of the Pradeaux.  The extra six years of age on the Pradeaux was an advantage rather than an impediment; this wine is glorying in its masculinity as it reaches adulthood.  The aromatics are as only a Pradeaux can offer: deliriously exuberant, defining “garrigue”, swooping in and gliding out throughout the evening, a panoply of scents that keeps one engaged moment-by-moment.  As for the mouthfeel, these two wines share the pleasures of the non-destemmed, traditional vinification with the tannins of the Pradeaux coating the palate with a most seductive, tensile grit (yes, grit … although grip would be an equally useful term).  The flavors of Mourvedre at its most concentrated and best from this this special terroir (a terroir truly specific to Pradeaux, an estate that merits its own appellation! … there must be something special in the air of that old cellar, no?) are of graphite and tobacco and oodles of other earth-infused elements.  This wine was a tour-de-force at the table.  How fortunate we are to have our long relationship with the curious and noble Portalis family.


Bea-Arboreus-2006I’ve been on a skin-contact kick lately. I think that beginning our relationship with Gravner and diving into those wines in a serious way triggered a perspective shift in my brain. While I had always enjoyed “orange wines” and found them interesting, I was never able to “see into” them the way I felt I could with so many other wines. Though I’m a little embarrassed to admit how late in the game it happened, something clicked for me recently, and I’ve been finding myself craving those warm, analog aromas, that beautifully assertive textural crunch, that primal sense of the ancient and raw. There’s a deep spiritual satisfaction in that “Oh, I get it now!” moment, and it’s something I’ve always loved about gaining an appreciation for authors and filmmakers and musicians as well. So it’s been fun riding that feeling with skin-contact wine.

This past Wednesday evening, I decided to check in on the 2009 Arboreus, a wine I hadn’t had in quite a while. I opened it to drink with some homemade mujadarra–an incredibly simple but satisfying traditional Lebanese dish made with lentils, rice, and onions cooked in lots of olive oil (hello, Il Censo) to the point of heavy caramelization. (I’ve found that skin-contact whites are great-to-dreamy when paired with anything involving caramelized onions–give it a try sometime…) The wine was impressive upon opening: dense and thick, with a toasty vanilla edge that obviously has nothing to do with oak; cafe au lait and fresh caramel, but also crunchy peaches and apricots; and broad, firm tannins that freshened up everything and unified all of those exotic counterparts.

As good as the wine was, I also wanted to try the dish with a red, so I crammed the cork back into the Arboreus and set it aside. What prompted this email wasn’t so much what happened that first night, but what happened three days later… My little sister had been in town visiting since Thursday morning, and I had forgotten about the poor Bea—he had never even made it into the refrigerator. Puttering around before dinner, I pulled the 3/4th-finished Arboreus from a group of to-be-recycled bottles, more out of sheer curiosity than any hope of it still being sound, and gave it a very light chill…

Gravner San-Fereolo-Dogliani

I was not at all prepared for how eye-poppingly dazzling it had become. Had someone snuck into my kitchen and shaved six ounces of white truffles into the last glass and a half’s worth of wine?! Day-four Arboreus had the depth and majesty one hopes for (usually in vain) in a 20-year-old white Burgundy, and it somehow tasted fresher and more integrated than on the first night. Even its color had deepened and solidified–an imposing copper ore that looked as if it had been sculpted rather than poured into a glass. My little sister, unprompted, said, “I think this is the best wine I’ve ever had in my life!” It’s definitely one of the most memorable wine moments of 2016 for me, a year filled with more than its share of delicious bottles. Now I can’t wait to try the same thing with Gravner, San Fereolo, et. But it will be difficult to top the impact of this, a truly Great Wine…

It’s something I love and cherish about wine—its ability to surprise you, to pull you out of your own mind unexpectedly, and to make you feel a sense of sheer wonderment that years of working in the industry can occasionally temper… Thanks for reading. What have you guys drunk and loved lately?


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