Lirac is the southernmost cru
In the Rhône Valley and probably 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.
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, and Holland. In the 16th century, things picked up speed: Lirac wines, that had already acquired a reputation, being 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.
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. 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.
The appellation of 782 hectares is spread over the best terroir in four 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 blending of wines from different terroirs is what defines the Lirac style: strong, structured, and aromatic, but always fresh and elegant.
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 and freshness. Finally, white grape varieties such as Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, and Claierette, mixed with small quantities of Picpoul, Marsanne, or Viognier, bless the arid scrub-land from which they draw their elegance, finesse, and aromatic complexity.