Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

Today’s Story: Domaine du Gros ‘Noré

Domaine du Gros ‘Noré was founded in 1997 by Alain Pascal, though he and his father Honoré grew and sold grapes on the property beforehand. Born in a small house surrounded by the vineyards in Bandol, Alain grew up to become an amateur boxer (thanks to his burly build and bear-claw-sized hands) and avid hunter but he always wanted to be a farmer. Though Alain and Honoré sold most of their fruit to Domaine Ott and Château de Pibarnon, the father and son duo also produced wines for their family’s enjoyment without estate bottling and commercializing it. After his father’s death, Alain shifted focus and founded Domaine du Gros ‘Noré (named after his father) which quickly helped catapult him to the forefront of winemaking in Bandol.

From the very beginning of his domaine, Alain sought to create wines through minimal intervention. Part of this vision includes fermenting his wines with only indigenous yeasts and not filtering them before bottling. Though he first became recognized for ripe and full-bodied wines thanks to his practice of allowing the grapes to mature fully on the vine before harvest, over the years he tried shifting toward wines of freshness and complexity by harvesting slightly earlier. The resulting wines offer both power and silkiness while depicting the sunny hillsides of Provence, its clay soil, and terroir in beautiful clarity.

Domaine du Gros ‘Noré consists of 16 hectares of vineyards, which Alain farms with help from his brother Guy. Alain’s vineyards are predominantly clay with some limestone, and the Mediterranean microclimate brings warm weather and full sun that culminates into expressive fruit.

Today’s Wine: 2010 Cuvée Antoinette

95% Mourvèdre, 5% Grenache; 15% ABV

The 2010 Cuvée Antoinette is deep ruby in color with bright ruby rim variation and slight particle presence in the glass. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of ripe cranberry, cherry, red and purple florals, leather, cured meat, cigar box, loamy earth, graphite, and wet gravel. I also get a bit of heat on the nose, likely due to the relatively high 15% ABV. On the palate, this wine shows notes of cranberry, raspberry, dusty blueberry, smoke, tobacco, charred earth, mushroom, underbrush, and chocolate. The wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium dusty tannins, and a long finish dominated by dark fruit and earthy tones. While drinking beautifully right now, there is definitely another decade to enjoy this wine.

Price: $82. I paid a bit more than this here in the USA’s Midwest, but I think $82 is a great price-point for the wine. This is a beautiful representation of Mourvèdre and was a library release directly from the domaine. Pair this with gamey meats, especially venison or buffalo and bison.

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