Owner Alain Pascal has 16 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.
There are now two cuvees of red wine is produced, bottled without fining or filtration. 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 this wine is very intense yet still fresh.
2016 Bandol Rosé (40% Mouvèdre, 20% Grenache and 40% Cinsault)
'Bright orange-pink. Bright, spicy and focused on the nose, displaying fresh orange, strawberry and floral scents that expand with aeration. Dry and chewy in the mouth, offering blood orange, bitter cherry and honeysuckle flavors that show excellent depth and focus. Closes taut and minerally, displaying strong persistence and a powerful floral note.'92 points, Josh Raynolds, Vinous, June 2017.
2014 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.
2012 Bandol Rouge
'This has a dark leathery frame but remains sleek and pure overall, with a dense core of currant preserves, steeped plum and lightly mulled blackberry fruit, studded with dried anise and singed juniper notes. A bolt of iron is buried deeply on the finish. Best from 2017 through 2025.'
93 points, Wine Spectator, October 2015. #94 Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2015.
2011 Bandol Rouge Cuvée Antoinette
From a single parcel of old vines at the highest point of the appellation.
Both of the reds are brilliant and most likely the wines of the vintage.
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.