Guide to the Loire regions

Côte Roannaise

Grower Profiles

Jean-François Pras
In 1994, the year the Roannaise received its appellation, the growers celebrated the event by releasing a calendar featuring photographs of a dozen vignerons. It is an excellent piece of work, and now considered a collectors piece through the region. Flicking through the calendar, the image that has the most impact is that of Jean-François Pras. He is posed in one of his cement tanks, barefoot, a contemplative look on his face, a piece of rope dangling above his head. It’s a dark picture, in more ways than one, but also with an element of humour. Pras was jailed briefly in the early 1980s as a conscientious objector for refusing his obligation to do his military service. Originally from Roanne, he created his domaine in 1988 from scratch, and for the first few seasons he didn’t own any vines at all, simply renting from various communes along the Côte.

Today he farms 3.75ha of which two hectares are his own vines which he has established in the last ten years. The rest are up to 50 years old and spread as far as Ambierle in the north, where he has vines in the renowned lieu-dit of Bonnichons, and extend through Saint-Haon and Renaison to Villemontais in the south. Some recently planted Viognier will account for around 10% of his production. Everything here is hand harvested.

Apart from the vines, Jean-François and his wife, Claude, also run a chambers d’hôte from their house, whilst also making a little goats cheese.

Pras employs a classic semi-carbonic fermentation conducted in tanks comprising of stainless steel, cement and fibre glass using cultured yeasts. There is no thermovinification, although he does choose to heat the must to 30-35˚centigrade. 

Two reds, a light example and simply sold as ‘Tradition’ is (in the 2007 vintage) a little strict and lean, lacking a some fruit and flesh, and around 2,500 bottles a year of ‘Viellies Vignes’. Both the 2006 and 2007 were quite firm and tannic, but J-P insists they need a little time to soften. He also vinifies around 10% of his production as rosé.

The market for the wines rests mostly within the immediate region, although he sends a little in Paris. He clearly has a following as he had very little wine available to sell. The 2008s looked better in tank than his 2006 and 2007 in bottle. 

Jean-François et Claude Pras
T: + 33 4 77 64 45 56
P: + 33 6 27 60 40 22
F: + 33 4 77 62 12 52

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