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Lirac AOC – Energy within

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A southern Rhône Cru where biodiversity and a vibrant community of winemakers bring terroir to life.

Driven by a diverse yet tight-knit community of growers and producers, the small, characterful southern Rhône Cru produces some of the region’s most exciting and perhaps underestimated wines. These are products both of a unique terroir – in which biodiversity, a rich geology and the northwestern Mistral wind take centre stage – and of the talent and ingenuity of local producers.

With an inspired, open and inquisitive spirit, local producers are questioning assumptions about the region’s true potential and of the changes it needs to implement in order to answer the climatic and economic challenges of tomorrow. Whilst dealing with these big questions, they are careful to recognise the value of traditional knowledge and of an integrated approach to agriculture – both of which Lirac has been exceptionally good at preserving and promoting.

Biodiversity as identity

In Lirac, vines are part of a balanced landscape – an intricate weaving of fauna and flora, in harmony and constant dialogue. The understanding of the vineyards as part of a larger, complex system in perennial motion, is a fundamental part of the region’s identity. Not only does it inform the way growers work and relate to the land, but it also impacts on the growth and development of the region’s grapes, ultimately shaping the character of the wines.

Olive groves, cherry trees and just over 2,500 hectares of woods share the appellation’s perimeter with 850 hectares of vines, over a geological patchwork of sandy plateaus, limestone pebbly soils and stretches of distinct galets roulés. This has a balancing thermal effect, while also allowing natural, non-interventional pest management. Phenolic maturity is reached slowly and in a measured way, thus delivering grapes with great aromatic depth and concentration underpinned by a well-honed tannic structure and vibrant acidity.

Vines in Lirac AOC, France

Terroir of rolled pebbles, Lirac

Holistic approach to sustainability

The region’s polycultural landscape offers depth and variety, and provides a fundamental asset, cultural asset, as well as a natural one. It informs the way the land and its resources are perceived by all those who live from it. This explains the active engagement of Lirac wine growers and producers in its preservation. The appellation has developed an Environmental Charter that defines clear requirements for the preservation of a wide variety of species and natural resources. The charter represents a pioneering initiative, with few if any counterparts, in which wine growers are called upon to embrace a larger, integrated environmental responsibility.

It reflects a holistic understanding of the landscape, on the one hand, and on the other, an awareness of the fact that the sustainable management of vineyards can only be effective within a broader systemic approach. Perhaps more importantly, this reflects the overall ethos of the appellation’s winemaking community.

Sense of community

The Mistral and the intense Mediterranean sun undoubtedly inject a particular energy into the landscape and wines of Lirac, but the human component of terroir is also fundamental to the appellation’s vibrancy. Being among the so far lesser-known crus of the southern Rhône has allowed the growers and winemakers of Lirac to remain incredibly connected to their roots and traditions, preserving the uniqueness of their terroir, while developing a strong sense of identity and community.

It has also allowed them to remain fearlessly curious and open, welcoming a number of ‘outsiders’, who have since become their peers and offered a fresh perspective on that which makes Lirac unique. Multiple projects spearheaded by vignerons and entrepreneurs from other regions and countries have added to a general feel of wonder and creativity. While rooted in tradition, Lirac is an appellation in motion, ready to embrace the future by leveraging the assets of the past and the expertise of the present.

Meanwhile, the growers and winemakers of Lirac are working collectively to bring the appellation’s specifications in line with the challenges of tomorrow, whilst regaining the valuable and forgotten knowledge of the past. Local grape varieties, once discarded for their lower yields, ripening struggles and unsatisfactory alcohol levels, are once again being brought to the forefront as those characters become important assets in the face of climate change.

The wines of Lirac

What of Lirac’s wines?

One could use the words ‘windswept and bright’ whilst trying to define the general personality of AOC Lirac wines. Shaped by balance and depth, Lira wines showcase a trademark freshness and drinkability, with superb integration of alcohol and acidity. There’s a distinct savouriness that draws a direct line from vineyard to glass. Lirac wines speak of their unique terroir, where the Mediterranean and the mountains meet, kissed by the Mistral and cradled by garrigue-covered hills.

The reds – always blended and based on a minimum 90% of Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre and/or Cinsault – display an alluring counterpoint between drinkability and structure, between fruit concentration and vibrancy. Although representing only 12% of the appellations production, Lirac whites should not be overlooked. The palette of grape varieties at the disposal of winemakers produces interesting and diverse results with three common denominators: food-friendliness, aromatic depth and textural expressiveness.

Many of them – and this is true of the reds as well – also have incredible potential to develop further complexity in bottle. Lirac is a source of undiscovered gems offering character and cellaring potential, as well as extraordinary value. They tell a fantastic story of collaboration, passion and resilience.

Lirac AOC at a glance

Located 15 km northwest of Avignon, on the right bank of the Rhône, across four communes of the Gard department: Lirac, Roquemaure, Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres and Saint-Géniès-de-Comolas.

Declared Cru of the Côtes du Rhône on October 14th 1947.

Area under vine: 841 hectares (2023 data) – 74% of which certified Organic, Biodynamic and/or HVE Producers/négociants: 70, 50 of which certified Organic, HVE3, Terra Vitis and/or Biodynamic

Annual production: 29,330 hl (2021), 19,945 hl (2022), 29,239 hl (2023)

Climate: predominantly Mediterranean, heavily influenced by the cold northwestern Mistral wind – which blows an average of 180 days/ year – with 2,700 sun hours per year.

Styles of wine produced: dry white, rosé and red

Primary grape varieties:

Reds – Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault
Whites – Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Roussanne

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