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Domaine Paul Prieur & Fils

For 11 generations, the Prieur family has been wine-growers in the village of Verdigny, Sancerre. The present proprietors and winemakers are Luc Prieur and his father Didier (who himself took over from his father Paul in 1973). Three generations of Prieurs receive clients and visitors who have been coming to the Domaine for generations. Luc joined the team in 2010, after completing his oenology studies in Beaune and stages in Burgundy and in England. For the 2010 vintage, the Domaine acquired a new pneumatic press and renovated and expanded their cellars. As a result, the Prieurs can totally eliminate exposure to air at pressing time in order to capture all of the vivid aromas and flavors of ripe fruit and minerals of their Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The hallmark of the Prieur Sancerre Blanc is its ideal combination of verve, balance and length.

PAUL PRIEUR & FILSDomaine Paul Prieur’s Sancerre Blanc comes from 13.5 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown on several parcels of south-facing, sloping vineyards, mainly in the commune of Verdigny. Winemakers Luc and Didier Prieur assemble the cuvees, so the blend of the different origins enhances the wine’s richness and complexity. About 70% of the grapes come from vines planted on two types of limestone soil: the thin, very stony, pure limestone“caillottes” soil contributes an intense bouquet and a vivid fruitiness with pleasant mineral notes, while the “terres-blanches” terroir has mix of limestone and clay, providing considerable body and structure, with great ripeness. The remaining 30% of the fruit comes from a silex soil in the commune of Thauvenay, adding its unique smoky “gun-flint” aromatic quality to the wine. The Prieurs aim to attain a perfect balance between ripeness and fruity acidity. They harvest by hand, ferment slowly at low temperature using only native yeast, and age their wine in stainless steel tanks on its fine lees to preserve all of the natural fruit and aromas. This textbook Sancerre Blanc is packed with white flower, citrus and tropical fruit flavors, has a classic Sancerre “attack,” and a long, refreshing, minerally finish. Fully dry, the Prieur Sancerre Blanc is very versatile with a wide range of foods. It perfectly complements grilled fish and chicken dishes, cold trout, salmon and seafood, soft shell crabs, pasta primavera and, of course, all goat cheeses.

Domaine Paul Prieur also produces exceptional Sancerre Rose and Rouge from Pinot Noir. The vines – which average 35 years old, including a 50-year-old parcel – are mostly selection massales from old vines that were replanted after Phylloxera. Indeed, Pinot Noir was the predominant varietal planted in Sancerre in the late 19th century. Prieur’s five hectare Pinot Noir vineyard, which is located at the base of the Mont-Damnes slope, on relatively fertile soil. The vines are planted north-south so they are exposed to a maximum of sunlight. The grapes are hand-picked at optimal ripeness, sorted and then de-stemmed. Prieur gives his Pinot Noir a two-week vatting period, with occasional pumping over of the cap (remontage) so as to avoid the extraction of astringent tannins. The wine is aged 50% in tank and 50% in barrels (one third new, one third each one- and two- year casks) in order to attain a balance between freshness and concentration. Prieur bottles the Sancerre Rouge after 11 months of aging in September just before the new harvest. France’s leading wine commentators, Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve extol Domaine Paul Prieur’s Sancerre Rouge as one of the “the great classics” of its kind. (Le Grand Guide des Vins de France, 2009, page 1088.) It has a supple texture and vivid aromas and flavors of dark cherry and spice, all lifted by the freshness imparted by its Loire valley origin. The majority of the production is sold yearly to restaurants in the Loire region and Paris.