Domaine A. F. Gros was founded in Burgundy, France, back in 1988 when reputable winemaker Anne-Françoise Gros took over her father’s diminishing estate and decided to reinvent the brand. Today, the estate is managed by two generations of established wine producers – Anne-Françoise herself and her husband François Parent.
Parent also has managed to build an impressive reputation in the world of winemaking, being known for his internationally recognized pinot noir wines. Since the foundation of Domaine A. F. Gros, Parent has been viewed as the estate’s creative genius, carefully developing all of its wines year after year.
“Because my father François Parent has been the winemaker since the creation of the estate in 1988, there has always been the focus on the finesse and purity of the fruit, as well as pushing the first the characteristic of the vintage.”
Union of Family Estates
Caroline Parent, the daughter of Anne-Françoise Gros and François Parent, is one of the three children of the legendary couple of winemakers. Together with her siblings, she works at the winery, making Domaine A. F. Gros a rare type of family business. According to Caroline, keeping the estate under a family name has long been a problem due to the ever-growing land prices in the historical French winemaking region. However, the estate has been secured under her family name for at least another generation.
We spoke to Caroline about the meaning of the family at Domaine A. F. Gros, regional grape varieties, and the inovative technologies used in the process of wine production at the estate.
Anne-Françoise Gros and François Parent
Wine regions and style varieties
Essentially, Domaine A. F. Gros is an example of a marriage between two highly reputable estates in Burgundy – Anne-Françoise’s winery in Vosne Romanée, Cote de Nuits, and her husband François Parent’s estate in Pommard, Cote de Beaune.
Caroline says that while the two estates share similar soils, the styles of wine produced at each of them differ significantly. “The soil is limestone and clay in both Vosne Romanée and Pommard. What is different is the composition of the soil. That is the mystery of Burgundy,” – she explains.
However, in her view, the wines produced at the two estates are distinct in their style, reflecting Gros’ and Parent’s individual approaches to winemaking. To Caroline, the wines made in Pommard are stricter and more elegant, while the Vosne Romanée wines are less serious, as well as more subtle in style.
“We make no difference in the winemaking process. The wine can be from Pommard or Vosne Romanée, it can be a generic Burgundy or a Richebourg Grand Cru. The winemaking process is the same,” – she adds.
Power of small adjustments
The process of winemaking at the estate often revolves around technological advancements, taking the quality of the wines to the next level. Mathias Parent, Caroline's brother who is currently the winemaker at the estate, is continuously working to enhance technology-driven processes at the winery.
Caroline discusses a new destemming technology that has been in use at the winery since 2011: “We use a new generation of machines that keeps the skin of the berries intact instead of crushing them while destemming.” Because of this, she explains, the fermentation process is cleaner, as the fermentation can also happen inside the berry itself.
“Since 2019, we also began to introduce a part of whole-bunch fermentation, since the vintages have been different, with the weather being unusually hot. This practice brought some freshness to the wines,” – Caroline says. “It does not change the style of our wines. Absolutely not. It is about evolution, and we made little adjustments.”
She adds that the technology used by the winemakers at the estate changes almost every year depending on the weather and conditions at the vineyards.
“In 2016, we decided to make a trial with Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits with no added sulfites in it,” – she says, adding: “Replacing Sulfur Dioxide with a natural antioxidant made from seed extract was meant to enhance aromatic properties to the wines”.
The unique bottle design of the wines produced at Domaine A. F. Gros is inspired by the terroir. Finely drawn faces on each bottle represent different appellations managed by the family.
The labels were devised by French sculptor Marie-Paule Deville-Chabrolle who took inspiration from the photographs of the women in the family, including Anne-Françoise herself, as well as her mother, her sister, and Caroline.
Caroline mentions that the image of the family remains the key aspect of the philosophy behind Domaine A. F. Gros – and the brand’s key marketing advantage.
“I think the interest of people in the estate lays in our philosophy – a long story of the family… My brother is the 14th generation in the Parent family, and it is about the same in the Gros family. I think there is a dream behind it.”
Some appellations on some wines will be more reserved and more difficult to access, shyer, so to speak. Others will be immediately accessible.
Wine & art & NFTs
Caroline views winemaking as equal to living art, where the creation continues to transform with every harvest. “Every year we have different weather, we have different grapes – and that is the magic of the job. You do something new every year, and this is an art form,” – she explains.
To her, the art scene in the world has significantly changed with the arrival of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that have been gaining momentum in the art industry as a way of buying and selling art. Caroline explains that NFTs have offered new opportunities for winemakers around the world to become part of this newly evolving world of numeric art.
She adds that, in the winemaking world, NFTs can be used as a way of certification which serves as proof of the authenticity. This is necessary as a way to address the issue of counterfeit wines in the same way as some luxury brands have already begun to use these.
“NFTs are very interesting, especially for use, as we have different appellations that can use them in to eventually certify wines in the future,” – Caroline concludes.