The reds from Alain Pascal of Gros ’Noré are big, brooding beasts that convey the full tannic punch of the Mourvèdre grape. This 2015 is no exception, as a hot, dry summer gave beautifully ripe grapes rich with sugars and complex flavors. Blackberry, black cherry, and Provençal herbs and spices dominate today, but with some bottle age (you may cellar it twenty years or more), leathery nuances and a gamey, almost animal bouquet tend to emerge. For drinking it now, pull the cork well in advance or use a decanter to allow its rugged tannins to soften, then dig in—you’ll find plenty to chew on.
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Alain Pascal could be a character pulled right out of a Marcel Pagnol novel--a kind of Provençal Hercules. Like his father, Honoré, for whom the domaine is named, Alain is a strong, husky man with hands the size of bear claws. That he is a former boxer and an avid hunter should be no surprise, yet his physique matches both his spirit and his wine--this gentle giant and his cuvées are all heart. Of the many stories recorded in Kermit's Inspiring Thirst, those of Alain are among the most entertaining. For years he sold his prized fruit from Bandol to Domaine Ott and Château de Pibarnon. Though he and his father would bottle their own wine for family consumption, they never labeled it under their own domaine name. Kermit has called those early family wines, "Magnificent Bandols made in the simplest manner, très franc de goût, with a whole lotta soul." In 1997 after his father's death, Alain officially started Domaine du Gros 'Noré, a real shift that has brought him more than just casual notice. Alain is already a leading contender in Bandol, the appellation regarded as the grand cru of Provence.