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2009 Domaine du Gros'Noré, Bandol Rouge, Cuvée Antoinette
The wines of Provence have been somewhat neglected at BBR, so it is with great pleasure that in 2012 we have started to work some of the very top Domaines, one being Gros’Noré, whose winemaking style is affording a comprehensive and fascinating perspective of that most modish of black grapes, Mourvèdre.
Domaine Gros’Noré is close to the sea, located in the village of La Cadière D’Azur, its clay-limestone soils etched into a natural amphitheatre which provides a unique microclimate where the Mediterranean air-currents do gentle battle with the latent Mistral and forge the most pleasing maritime conditions.
Add to this the clarity of the light and the Cezanne colours, and, in the character of winemaker Alain Pascal, a gentleman who has walked straight out of a Pagnol novella, and the scene is set perfectly. Vincent Avril at Clos Des Papes (who aspires to have more Mourvèdre in his blend) likes to personify the grape variety thus; ‘it must have its feet near to the sea and its head close to the sun’. In Bandol, it is clearly in its element.
Alain has rebuilt his father’s old winery by hand. His father was, how shall we put this, of a not modest stature and the name of the property is a specific, affectionate reference to his girth. The winemaking is natural, taking advantage of ‘marine humidity’ and plenty of sunshine, and the grapes are not always de-stemmed. There are no added yeasts and fining and filtration are avoided.
If this is a traditional wine style Bandol, then this tradition must be up-held. The word ‘rustic’ is not inevitably pejorative when used by the French to describe their wines. It most certainly is not in this case. This is a marvellous property, with a huge following in France, and one which we are delighted to introduce to the UK market.
Simon Field MW, BBR Wine Buyer
Mourvèdre, aka Monastrell in Spain, is a common blending partner of Syrah and Grenache (aka Garnacha in Spain). In Australia and California it can also appear under the name Mataro.
Mourvèdre's bastion in France is Bandol, where it reigns supreme in the red blends and yielding a savoury, gamey, herby wine. It also commonly features in Southern Rhône, Languedoc & Rousillon blends.
The grape needs a warm climate to ripen fully. Its stronghold in Spain are the appellations along the south-east Mediterranean(Murcia, Jumilla, Bullas), where it produces rosé, dry red and sweet fortified wines. Monastrell has played a significant part in Spain’s vinous heritage; it nurtures wines that are deep in colour and richly tannic, sometimes overbearing in their intensity and concentration
The appellation, a small enclave adjacent toCôtes de Provence, takes its name from the small fishing village of Bandol, which was once a port that flourished with the region’s wine trade. The area has a long history of wine production and, ever since the Phylloxera epidemic in the late 18th century, has concentrated its efforts on the Mouvèdre grape. This late-season, red grape has always been grown in the area and is well suited to the terroir in Bandol.
Bandol is predominantly coastal. The soils (consisting of limestone and silicon) are dry, but the vineyards (usually planted on hilltops) receive moisture from the rain and the sea. Mechanical harvesting is banned throughout the region.
Bandol growers have a saying: ‘one vine, one bottle’; hence the region has the lowest yields in France. Yet the area has established a reputation that goes beyond French borders as the best ambassador of quality wine for Provence.
Bandol red is Mourvèdre-dominated, stimulating, mouth-filling, flavoursome, well-structured and age-worthy. The wine is distinguished by deep colour and intense flavours of black fruit, vanilla, spicy concentration and meaty notes. It is aged in oak for 18 months and drinks well from an early age, but has the potential to improve for up to a decade.
Bandol also produces a small quantity of white wines, consumed locally, mostly from Clairette, Bourboulenc and Ugni Blanc, as well as earthy rosés – mainly from Grenache and Cinsault.
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