The Southern part of the Rhone Valley is all about red wine, representing close to 80% of the total production, but it is also about variety with upwards of 20 different grapes grown in the area. We won’t list all the varieties here, for it really is about the big three. Or as we say in Australia – GSM. Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre.
GSM’s from Australia have become super trendy of late with Charlie Melton’s Nine Popes leading the way. But he drew his inspiration from the wines of the Southern Rhone, who have been making these wines for close to 1000 years – Now that would be a vertical tasting! The wines of the Cote Du Rhone are predominately made from Grenache, which in some cases can be as high as 70% of the blend but never lower than 40%. However in the Rhone it is not really about the varietal percentage, as it is more about the “terroir” and the house style of the producer.
This wines is from the Lirac AOC, one of the last and best-kept secrets in the Rhone Valley. A fantastic southern Rhone region that has been over shadowed by the likes of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. Great news for us because Lirac is still ridiculously good value. Lirac is a small village on the western side of the Southern Rhone Valley, 10 klms west of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Infact the two regions share an incredibly similar climate and soil profile. They both have the famous large rounded stones or “Galets Roules” that are so important in retaining the heat from the day to help ripen the grapes during the cooler nights. Whilst they do not have the fame or fanfare of the wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape they still have the same quality profile at a fraction of the price.
A blend of Grenache 70 %, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre from a vineyard across the road from the famous Chateauneuf-du-pape. This is the first vintage under their new winemaker Pierre Fabre who is putting a modern twist on this very traditional estate. He has introduced a higher percentage of new wood into the blend, with one third of the wine seeing up to 18 months in new French Oak. Medium to light bodied, but certainly not lacking in any power. In fact, I believe this wine needs to be decanted for at least 30 minutes before drinking. It has a super aroma of pot purri, wild flowers and red fruits. This is the kind of wine I could happily drink every night. It has layers, but is still refined. I would match with a bowl of spaghetti or a mild chicken curry. Or if you would like something a little more hearty match with braised shoulder of lamb and sweet new potatoes and you are in for a treat.