From Bandol's Heart

As the Langhe is for Nebbiolo, Bandol is for Mourvèdre—the place where this noble variety’s genius is most completely articulated.

For more than a millennium, the harmony of this Provençal terroir with Mourvèdre made Bandol one of France’s viticultural jewels. Yet, in the wake of phylloxera, Bandol declined, and Mouvèdre virtually disappeared in favor of higher-yielding, lesser varieties.

Mourvèdre started its comeback in the 1940s—thanks to the efforts of Tempier’s Lucien Peyraud—and today, Bandol’s greatest wines rely heavily on Mourvèdre for their expression. And this is very much the case with the Bandol classique and Bandol Cuvée Antoinette of the area’s new traditional star, Domaine du Gros ’Noré.

Finding older examples of these two quintessential Bandols is difficult. But we can offer the great 2011 Bandol classique and Bandol Cuvée Antoinette—both rated 94  points in the Wine Advocate—along with the now-rare 2010 Antoinette in a compellingly priced 6-bottle mixed case.

Back Story
Alain Pascal comes from a family of growers on the terraced clay and limestone slopes of La Cadière d’Azur, located in the heart of Bandol’s sheltering amphitheater. And, for decades, his father Honoré sold their fruit to such top producers as Pibarnon and Romassan.

But upon his father’s death in 1998, Alain began bottling all of the domaine’s production, and he hasn’t looked back since. Pascal’s traditional approach—a high percentage of Mourvèdre, use of indigenous yeasts and whole clusters in the fermentation and aging in foudre—purely expresses both the power and the finesse of his special place.

Pascal makes two red cuvées—his Bandol classique, blended from the domaine’s 40- to 60-year-old Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault vines—and the very small production Cuvée Antoinette. In its remarkable marriage of structure and elegance, the classique offers compelling evidence of how perfectly suited the domaine’s terroir is to Mourvèdre.

And the almost-pure Mourvèdre Cuvée Antoinette takes this concept even further: through its north-facing—à la Rayas—plot in the domaine’s highest parcel and Pascal’s deft touch, it has even greater richness and elegance.

With its first release, Gros ’Noré received immediate acclaim from La Review du Vin de France and Gault et Millau, two of France’s most important wine publications. And the buzz continues to spread, putting increasing pressure on the domaine’s small production.

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