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2021 Bandol Rosé

Domaine du Gros ‘Noré
Discount Eligible $36.00

The 2021 Bandol Rosé from Domaine du Gros ’Noré is all the talk here in Berkeley. Crisp and characterful, and loaded with Provençal complexity, it’s a balanced blend of structured Mourvèdre with equal parts Cinsault, a more delicate variety, and fruit-forward Grenache. Alain was once profiled during harvest for the major French news station TF1, and after seeing footage of his rigorous sorting practices, it’s easy to see why his rosé tastes so damn good.   
     “It all depends on the raw material,” he says. “If we don’t have that, we can’t make a high-quality wine.” Standing atop his tractor amid a bounty of freshly-clipped Mourvèdre, he inspects each and every cluster. Grabbing one whole like a giant drumstick, he tears off a bite with his teeth and swishes the skins, seeds, and pulp as if it were already wine. He pauses in reflection, then spits vigorously into an imaginary spittoon. “Too acidic, we can’t use that bunch.”     
     It’s August in Provence so Alain and his team pick before dawn to ensure the grapes remain cool. As the sun stretches up over the hills of La Cadière d’Azur, he practices yet another quality control technique. Holding up a gorgeous, plump cluster of Mourvèdre to the first rays of light, Alain fixates on where the sun enters the translucent skin of some pinker-looking berries, then tosses it to the ground. “Not ripe enough,” he indicates. It seems crazy to reject so much decent fruit, especially for a mere rosé, but Alain isn’t one to settle, and this is no ordinary rosé. “As soon as my grapes enter the cellar, the wine is ninety percent complete. I am just there to accompany them.” Alain repeats the sunlight test with a different bunch, only this time a glowy halo appears, and every berry looks deep, dark, and densley purple. This one makes it to press. With such ripe fruit, how does Alain keep his rosé so refreshing? “I press gently, never over-extracting. I prefer to lose in quantity over quality, that’s how to preserve finesse.”     
     The video ends with Alain checking on another parcel. One of his hunting dogs, trailing closely behind, devours some low-hanging fruit. Alain laughs, “Their palates are sharp, they won’t touch anything unripe. Yet another indication it’s the perfect time to harvest!”

Jane Augustine

Technical Information
Wine Type: Rosé
Vintage: 2021
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: 54% Mourvèdre, 25% Cinsault, 19% Grenache, 2% Clairette
Appellation: Bandol
Country: France
Region: Provence
Producer: Domaine du Gros ‘Noré
Winemaker: Alain Pascal
Vineyard: 30 years average, 13 ha
Soil: 54% Mourvèdre, 25% Cinsault, 19% Grenache, 2% Clairette
Farming: Organic (certified)
Alcohol: 13%

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About The Region


map of Provence

There is perhaps no region more closely aligned with the history of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant than Provence. While Kermit began his career as a Burgundy specialist, he soon fell in love with Provence and its wines, notably the legendary Bandols of Domaine Tempier, which he began importing in 1977. He later began living in the area part-time, returning frequently between tasting trips, and today he spends most of his time at his home just outside of Bandol.

Provence is thought to be France’s most ancient wine region, established when Greek settlers landed in the modern-day port city of Marseille in the 6th century BC. The conditions here are ideal for cultivation of the grapevine, with a hot, dry climate and a prevalence of poor, rocky soils, primarily limestone-based, suitable for vines and not much else. The ever-present southern sunshine as well as the mistral, a cold, drying wind from the northwest that helps keep the vines free of disease, are crucial elements of Provençal terroir. Wild herbs from the pervasive scrubland, called garrigue, and cooling saline breezes from the Mediterranean also contribute to the quality and character of wines in all three colors.

Provence is well known for its rosés, but red wines have always held importance here. The very best, such as those from Bandol, possess great depth and a capacity for long-term aging. The white wines, notably those of Cassis, offer weight balanced by a maritime freshness, making them ideal pairings for the local seafood. Mourvèdre reigns king for red grapes, supported mainly by Grenache and Cinsault, while Clairette, Marsanne, Rolle, and Ugni Blanc are the region’s principal white grapes.

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Old cob-webbed wine bottles

Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.