The historic Lirac appellation has about 1,700 acres of vineyards, mostly located in the eponymous village. There are also some vineyards in three other villages in the vicinity. Situated directly across the Rhône river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac is one of the underrated regions of the southern Rhône. The reds share the perfume of good Châteauneuf, and flavorful rosés and whites are also made here.
Historians have determined that Lirac's wines were very popular among the ruling class of France about 2,000 years ago. In fact, in that early time Lirac was possibly the most famous wine region of the Rhône. However, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region's wines gradually overtook those of Lirac, and by the Middle Ages the region's wines had only average popularity. Lirac was granted AOC status in 1945.
Climate and Viticulture
The Lirac vineyards border the Rhône river; this is a major climatic asset. However, the soil is a weakness here; in general, it is rather sandy, with few of the pebbles that Châteauneuf's vineyards are known for.
Over a dozen grapes are allowed here. In the red and rosé wines, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Cinsaut are the prominent grapes. Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Trebbiano, and Viognier are the major white grapes. Most of the red wines have simple but bright, vibrant flavors of red and dark fruit. The rosés are nervy wines based mostly on strawberry flavors; whites tend to be made in a perfumed style.
Generally, these wines are quite reliable. Lirac has four especially notable producers; they are listed below.
- Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine: Strong expert ratings and reasonable prices make the basic red wine one of the best values of the appellation. Stylistically it is similar to good Châteauneuf. The white is less common, as is cuvée Le Ferme Romaine.
- Domaine de la Mordorée: This widespread Rhône producer makes an outstanding Lirac, the Cuvée de la Reine des Bois, rated 94 in the 2007 vintage. Deep, dark, and pungently spicy and earthy, it is one of the most raw and powerful Liracs in existence. The white wine is also good.
- Domaine Roger Sabon: Sabon's basic Lirac is good, if a bit pricey, and the Chapelle de Mailrac is an excellent cuvée.
- Château de Ségriès: One of the oldest remaining Lirac producers, Ségriès makes good basic red and white wines, as well as an aristocratic, well-flavored Cuvée Reservé.
No subregions of note here.