Domaine du Gros Nore Bandol Rouge 2006
Alain is already a leading contender in Bandol, the appellation regarded as the grand cru of Provence.
He farms sixteen hectares of vineyards with the help of his brother, Guy, on the rolling hillsides around La Cadière d’Azur. The vineyards are composed of both clay and limestone, imparting a pronounced structure of earthy, splintered rock. This microclimate near the Mediterranean brings warm weather and full sun, tempered by the persistent Mistral. Alain leaves his grapes to mature fully on the vine, lending great intensity to the fruit. Where appellation law demands that each blend includes at least 50 percent Mourvèdre, Alain uses 80 percent—a choice that gives more power and concentration to the final assemblage. Do not be fooled by the strength and boldness of the Gros ‘Noré Bandol, though; underneath a big exterior is a wine of character, depth, complexity, soul, and finesse.
More than just a European vacation hotspot and rosé capital of the world, Provence is a southeastern France, coastal appellation producing interesting wines of all colors. The warm, breezy Mediterranean climate is ideal for grape growing and the diverse terrain and soil types allow for a variety of wine styles within the region. Adjacent to the Rhône Valley, Provence shares some characteristics with this northwestern neighbor—namely, the fierce Mistral wind and the plentiful wild herbs (such as rosemary, lavender, juniper and thyme) often referred to as garrigue. The largest appellation here is Côtes de Provence, followed by Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.
Provence is internationally acclaimed for dry, refreshing, pale-hued rosé wines, which make up the vast majority of the region’s production. These are typically blends, often dominated by Mourvèdre and supplemented by Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren and other varieties.
A small amount of full-bodied, herbal white wine is made here—particularly from the Cassis appellation, of Clairette and Marsanne. Other white varieties used throughout Provence include Roussane, Sémillon, Vermentino (known locally as Rolle) and Ugni Blanc.
Perhaps the most interesting wines of the region, however, are the red wines of Bandol. Predominantly Mourvèdre, these are powerful, structured, and ageworthy wines with lush berry fruit and savory characteristics of earth and spice.
Full of ripe fruit, and robust, earthy goodness, Mourvèdre is actually of Spanish provenance, where it still goes by the name Monastrell or Mataro. It is better associated however, with the Red Blends of the Rhône, namely Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Mourvèdre shines on its own in Bandol and is popular both as a single varietal wine in blends in the New World regions of Australia, California and Washington. Somm Secret—While Mourvèdre has been in California for many years, it didn’t gain momentum until the 1980s when a group of California winemakers inspired by the wines of the Rhône Valley finally began to renew a focus on it.