Lirac wine is fresh and delicate, and proud of its amazingly tranquil reputation. But do not be deceived by its easy-going exterior, which falls away to reveal an undeniably generous, shimmering core.Christophe Tassan
A secret cru awaits discovery. Lirac is the southernmost cru in the Rhône Valley... and certainly the least well-known! It grows in tranquil isolation, far from the beaten path. That said, the wine has been cultivated here since ancient times, and the appellation has been an official Côtes du Rhône cru since 1947.
Lirac is one of the rare crus to be available in three colours. The appellation is spread over the best earth in 4 small local authorities in the Gard, and its official specifications are among the region’s most stringent.
As far back as the middle ages, this vineyard on the banks of the Rhône was known for the quality of its wines. To guarantee this level of quality, only the winemakers and traders that respect the production charter can use the new Lirac bottle. The assembly of wines from different terroirs is what defines the Lirac style: strong, structured, and aromatic, but always fresh and elegant. Definitely a gem that deserves to be unearthed!
The diversity of the soil coupled with the appellation’s Mediterranean climate enables a range of grape varieties to express their full personality. Thus, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault thrive on the clay plateaus with their large pebbles, where their strength is developed in well structured red wines. The Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Cinsault used in the Lirac rosés are grown in sands that also provide their roundness. Finally, white grape varieties such as Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, and Claierette, mixed with small quantities of Picpoul, Marsanne, or Viognier, bless the arid scrubland from which they draw their elegance, finesse, and aromatic complexity.
Lirac red wines have a deep ruby colour and breathe aromas of red fruits, black fruits, scrubland, and spices. As they age, they develop aromas of leather, liquorice, truffles, and cocoa. Balanced wines, in the mouth they blend strong tannins with characteristic body. They can be aged significantly.
The rosé wines are of an intense, deep colour. The nose is seduced with strawberry, raspberry, and red fruits. Smooth yet dynamic, they are full-bodied with the fresh finish, and produce pleasantly intense aromas.
The clear, bright, white wines produce floral and fruity notes: acacia, lime, or fennel mix with peaches, apples, and tropical fruits. Over time, they mature into honey and scrubland. Delicate and refined in the mouth, they produce a wonderfully fresh finish.
Vineyards have been a local resource for over two thousand years.
Over the centuries, Roquemaure and its port became prosperous and powerful, exporting “Côte du Rhône” wines to Paris, England, or Holland. In the 16th century, things picked up speed: Lirac wines, that had already acquired a reputation, were served in the major royal courts of the day both in France and abroad. Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres still holds traces of this opulent past: a former enclave of the diocese of Avignon, it hosted a vineyard belonging to the bishops. The vineyard that surrounds the village’s castle, easily recognizable with its bartizan turret, produced enough wine to send a tithe across the river comprising of “five ships full to the brim with red wine”.
In 1727, efforts were taken to protect the wine’s name, and winemakers branded “C.d.R”, for “Côte du Rhône”, on to their barrels to certify the contents. Lirac Cru is therefore the original Côte, a name that was later given to all wines from the Côtes du Rhône.
In 1804, Count Henri de Régis de Gatimel inherited Ségriès Château that is still a feature of the appellation today. At the time, the area only produced cereal and silkworms, and had a modest vineyard.
In 1925, the decision was made to replant the vineyard up to its Roman-era boundaries, and the following decade saw the battle to win AOC designation for the Lirac terroir. The campaign was a success and on 11 October 1945, the appellation gained legal recognition from Uzé court, and Lirac was granted AOC status on 14 October 1947. The new appellation was the first Côtes du Rhône Cru to produce all three colours of wine: red, rosé, and white.
View the decrees granting appellation status (INAO)1947Birth of AOC Lirac
Lirac AOC lies 15km to the north-east of Avignon, on the right-bank of the Rhône in the Gard. The 715 cultivated hectares cover 4 areas including Roquemaure, the cradle of the Côtes du Rhône, Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres and Saint-Géniès-de-Comolas, on the Rhône’s right bank
The climate here is purely Mediterranean. The Lirac vineyards boast exceptional exposure to the sun, with 2700 hours per year. The average annual temperature is around 14°C.
At the two ends of the AOC area - mainly in Lirac - the vineyard is planted on the Gard’s limestone plateaus that are covered with a film of red clay and pebbles. Well drained, this terroir produces strong wines with solid tannins and a significant potential for ageing.
In the centre, like around Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres, the vineyard is formed of the ancient alluvial terraces of the Rhône, made up of quartz pebbles and red clay carried down from the Alps, all atop a bed of sand. These precious terraces are from the same geological age (quaternary era) as Châteaunef-du-Pape.
Finally, the terraces’ slopes give rise to sand laced with small pebbles from various landslides. This describes the terroir of Saint-Geniès-de-Comolas, where the red wines are finer and contain less tannin.
surface area782 hectares
Total production20 347 hl
- 85% Red
- 9% White
- 6% rosé
Sales18 047 hectolitres
Export*57% exported abroad
Average yield achieved26 hl/ha
*Export figures according to the most recent research
Source : Harvest statement 2013