Owner Alain Pascal has 17 ha of vines in the prime sector of Cadiere d’Azur. The first official vintage released was 1997. Prior to this, Alain’s father, Honore (his name is shortened to ‘Nore to give the name of the Domaine as Gros Noré = Fat Honore) worked the vineyards but never made his own wine. Instead he sold the grapes to another leading Bandol producer at that time, Chateau de Pibarnon. These beautifully sited vineyards have an average age of 30 years with some located in the highest coolest part of Bandol.
Bandol is regarded as the First Growth of Provence producing the most serious, and well known, wines of Provence. The Mourvèdre grape variety is the basis of great Bandol with appellation laws requiring a minimum of 50% for the red wines (though many use up to 100% for some cuvees). As well as Mourvèdre (80%), the Gros' Noré red also has a dash of Grenache (15%), and old vine Cinsault (5%). The wine is aged for 18 months in old 60 hl wooden barrels (foudres). There are no new barriques used.
The domaine has been working organically for many years with no weed-killers or pesticides and will have Ecocert certification in 2020. Alain places a heavy emphasis on ploughing and working the soil in the springtime. All grapes are hand harvested and sorted and bought quickly to the winery where the grapes are moved onto a vibrating table to remove unwanted material before being de-stemmed. The must of the rose and white are first cooled with the rose spending 24 hours on skins before fermentation.
There are now two cuvees of red wine produced and both are bottled without fining or filtration and minimal SO2 (30 ppm free). Cuvee Antionette comes from old vines located in the highest and coolest north facing slope in Bandol and was first produced in 2008. Made from 95% Mourvedre and 5% Grenache this wine is very fine and intense yet still fresh. In recent years the red wines are showing more finesse and freshness with very gentle extraction as the late ripening Mourvedre gives ample depth and structure in this ideal climate.
“I was blown away by the quality here and their wines were easily some of the top...” The Wine Advocate Feb 2014
2018 Bandol Rosé
50% Mouvèdre, 25% Grenache and 25% Cinsault all hand harvested and macerated on skins for 24 hours at 10c.
“Vivid orange-pink. Blood orange, nectarine and red currant qualities on the expressive, mineral-driven nose. Sappy and penetrating on the palate, offering intense red berry and citrus pith flavors that slowly flesh out as the wine opens up. Shows excellent clarity and breadth on the very long, floral-tinged finish, which leaves a juicy pit fruit note behind. 92.” Vinousmedia.com August 2019
‘Gros Noré has turned in another fine effort in its 2018 Bandol Rose. Half Mourvèdre, with the balance a blend of Cinsault and Grenache, it's medium-bodied, with a silky-creamy texture and plenty of depth and intensity. Crushed stone accents pineapple and lime notes, and yet the wine comes across as fully ripe and harmonious, with fruit flavors lingering on the finish.’ 91 points The Wine Advocate, May 2019
2017 Bandol Rosé
40% Mouvèdre, 20% Grenache and 40% Cinsault. “Light, brilliant orange. Displays mineral-laced redcurrant, blood orange and peach scents, along with a suave floral quality that builds in the glass. Silky and penetrating on the palate, offering juicy raspberry and nectarine flavors that are lifted and sharpened by a hint of bitter orange pith. Finishes very long and smooth, with lingering lavender and pit fruit notes. 92.” Vinousmedia.com August 2018
2016 Bandol Rouge
’One of my favorite 2016s, Gros Noré's 2016 Bandol is a complex, savory offering with at least 15 years of life ahead of it. Dark, plummy fruit picks up notes of mocha, roasted meat and mushrooms on the medium to full-bodied palate. Rich and velvety from start to long, long finish, this is nice, nice stuff, a blend of 80% Mourvèdre with 15% Grenache and 5% Cinsault aged in foudres.’ 93 points The Wine Advocate, May 2019
2015 Bandol Rouge
Made from 40-60 yo vines with about 80% Mourvedre together with 10% Grenache and a dash of both Carignan and Cinsault. It is the Mourvedre here which gives the wine both backbone and generosity enabling the wine to age effortlessly for a decade or 2. The vineyards of Gros Nore surround not only the fields surrounding the winery on the aptly named Chemin de l’Argile (the clay road), the domaine also owns the highest vineyards in the appellation which face due north. It is these much higher and cooler sites where the vineyards have a base of limestone contributing outstanding freshness and vitality. Natural yeast ferment. Bottled without fining or filtering.
Both of the 2011 reds from Gros Nore are brilliant and most likely the wines of the vintage. 2011 was a particularly good vintage for the notoriously late ripening Mourvedre grapes.
2011 Bandol Rouge Cuvée Antoinette
From a single parcel of old vines at the highest point of the appellation with a cooler north facing exposition.
Also gorgeous, yet slightly more elegant and polished, the 2011 Bandol Cuvee Antoinette, which is named after winemaker Alain Pascal’s mother, is comprised of 90% Mourvedre and the balance Cinsault and Grenache. It exhibits impressive amounts of red and black fruits, sweet spice, smoked earth and dried flower notions as well as building richness and depth on the palate. Full-bodied, elegant, seamless and silky, with fantastic polish to the tannin, it’s reasonably approachable now, yet should be better in another year or three, and have 15-20 years of ultimate longevity.' 94 points, Jeb Dunnuck, RobertParker.com, February 2014.