Summary: Impressive Domaine du Prince wines. Easy to drink red fruit Tradition, subtle cassis-intense, oak aged the Chene du Prince, pure dark fruit elegance of the Rossignol and powerful complexity of the true Black Wine, smokey truffle 2009 Lou Prince.
Driving through the very beautiful Lot landscapes, I hunted for the well regarded Domaine du Prince, and was struck once again how lucky I am to live in such an incredibly stunning area, surrounded by the best wines I have ever tasted. Upon finding the understated Domaine, my expectations were running high after the insistence of making this visit. I was looking forward to seeing if the wine lives up to its reputation…
Domaine du Prince is so named because the in the mid 1500s the King was so taken with their wines that he gave them gold coins, which led to the name ‘Prince’ as Cahors wine royalty! And hence the name Domaine du Prince. They are once of the oldest vineyards in Cahors. I parked my Landy next to their 2 cows, munching happily on their overflowing pumpkin patch, and went through the large wooden doors keeping guard on the treasure within. I took my time to meander through to the tasting area, noticing the barrels and cement tanks on either side of the wide entrance. Bottling was well under way and I waited, enjoying the atmosphere and aromas for a moment. A warm welcome by Didier Jouves who was very kind and stopped his bottling to talk me through their wines.
Tradition 2008 : We started with their 1st category Tradition, a 2008, lovely deep red colour, 100% Malbec. Very light and fruity, with hints of elegant red fruits, more red-currant than black, not strong or over-powering. There was a very mild hint of liquorice, and although in the first category of Cahors wines, it was an elegant, simple wine, and very promising that more was to come from their other wines. Moving on to taste the 2009, I was immediately taken by the stronger red-currant (cassis) bouquet, matched as well in flavour. More impressive than the 2008, this had a fuller body, although clearly still the same wine. Not aged in oak, it has a simple masculine beauty that impressed me from the first drop.
Chene du Prince 2007 : I’m an oaky girl, so to speak, so I was keen to try their next wine, the Chene du Prince. Starting with the 2007, straight away I noticed the darker appearance, a much deeper red than the Tradition. Already 6 years old, it had the musky, liquorice nose than made me close my eyes as I took the first sip. Promising a heavier smokey wine, its strength was not over-powering. What struck me was how well rounded it was, and light for a 6 year old wine aged in oak for 12 months…..Impressive that they managed to maintain a simple elegance, yet still keep a clearly masculine power to it. Tasting the 2006 straight afterwards gave me a further appreciation of the complexity to this lovely wine. Well rounded tannins give this superb wine a body to it that would be well paired with food, yet still not too much to drink on its own.
Rossignol 2008 : Starting with a 2008, which had a dark inky colour, not just hinting but promising a very powerful, impressive wine. Darkly concentrated, fruity nose, with a hint of liquorice, drawing out the anticipation further. Wow….. The first taste, inky complex darkness, concentrated cassis, high quality, clear power, very pure. Smooth and velvety with the merest hint of vanilla. incredible wine seems to be an understatement….The Rossignol is not aged in oak, so the wine does not hide behind anything, it is very pure. We tasted the 2009 after this, and I see in my notes that I have written ‘a taste explosion of perfect grapes in the mouth!!’ And another Wow….. This is a truly incredible wine, eclipsing many I have tasted over the last few months, I look forward to telling as many people as I can about this understated, incredible vineyard. I was impressed by these wines, and yet, still one more to follow!
Lou Prince 2009: Well……where do you go from there….only one way, onto the final oak aged LOU PRINCE. After opening a bottle through the wax (yes wax!) encasing the cork, we tasted the 2009, the colour was so black that it surely is the original true, Black Wine that we all search for…..and after the first taste, I could easily have ended my search right there, right then. The nose follows up the colour with a very powerful promise of a very great wine, smokey dark fruits assault the senses and I felt compelled to close my eyes to savour it without distraction – oh goodness, I hear you say, she’s lost the plot…..Well, if one can be completely under the spell of a wine, it was right then that I fell. Black cherries work side by side with a truffel chocolate richness fuirther enhanced by the oak power, yet so well rounded that it really is such a well balance wine. Complex and very masculine, with an aftertaste of tobacco you can almost chew on, it really does rest in the mouth and continue the exquisite experience that comes with drinking this wine. I would definitely pair it with food, a rare venison of top quality, or a blue Aberdeen Angus fillet…..something that will really match this powerful beauty. It is high in volume at 16.5%, and indeed there is a headiness that accompanies this wine. I have since tasted the 2010 and although this is also an excellent vintage, I eagerly await the 2011 (a truly exceptional year in Cahors). Buying a box of 6 wines is presented in a wooden box, and a further indication that this wine is something very special.
Didier drove us out into the vineyard, and as we stopped right beside the Lou Prince vines, I was impressed yet again by the simplicity of the domain, the vineyard, the viticulteurs…..the true artisans, humble and very pleased by the medals they have for their wines. The iron oxide in the soil gives the Malbec grape a very pure minerality, and the terroir is as impressive as the vines.
Our appellation has a number of incredible vineyards and artisans, many of you who know me, or know of me, are aware of the wines I adore, and the vineyards I rate very very highly, so you will be pleased to know that I will be bringing Domaine du Prince to the UK, to Rocamadour, and to anyone who wants a perfect wine. As I was leaving, I decided to drive into the vineyards in the Landy, and was lucky enough to meet his brother Bruno, and their dog who was delighted to meet me, muddy paws and all (as my crazy English Setter is just as pleased to share her muddy paws, this was fairly normal to me!). He explained more of the vines as well and was happy to chat for a while.
I was equally as impressed by Didier and Bruno and their honest love of what they do as the incredible wines here at Domaine du Prince. I would recommend any of their wines, and I would be happy to drink each one in the right circumstances.