For ages I’ve found the wines from the Rhone region in southern France to be some of the greatest wines (and often some of the greatest values) to be found. Rhone is one of my “go to” regions when selecting a wine that I feel will highly likely be delicious and go well with food. And after paying a visit to Tavel and Chateauneuf du Pape last fall, I’m even more drawn toward these wines.
One thing that became clear during that visit is that while there are many appellations (AOCs) defined throughout this area, the differences between those regions is not necessarily significant. A few feet of space can be the difference between Chateaneuf du Pape and Cotes du Rhone Villages. And even though the grapes in a wine come from Cotes du Rhone Villages, it may be labeled simply as Cotes to Rhone. But what does all that mean to you? Not a lot, other than the fact that you shouldn’t get too hung up on one appellation over another and should try a number of wines from the region. It also means you could be surprised by some of the great values you find.
All of that said, the areas within the greater Rhone region that are considered to be superior are given specific AOC designations — such as Lirac, which is across the river from Chateuneuf du Pape and also borders Tavel. The soils here are similar to other Rhone vineyards, featuring a combination of sandy soils, galets roules and lauses.
Lirac is best known for its red wines, which are made from the same grapes as other Rhone reds. This one is 95% grenache and 5% syrah.
When visiting the area, I found that many producers have vineyards in many different appellations. So it’s not uncommon to find a single producer who makes Tavel, Chateaneuf du Pape, Lirac, Cotes do Rhone and/or other wines. Until I came across this wine, I had not come across any wines from this producer. But I came across this wine for about $17 at The Wine Cellar Outlet and it seemed like a good price for a Lirac, so I rolled the dice on it. I’m glad I did.
This wine has intense aromas, with fragrances like dark chocolate, strawberry, dried cherries and plum. The palate is loaded with juicy plum, strawberry and chocolate flavors that are well balanced and come with a rich mouthfeel. The acidity is good and the finish is long and features mostly fruit flavors, but also has a touch of bitterness.
Wine: L’Escoudouliere, Lirac
Varieties: 95% grenach, 5% syrah