Lirac is located only 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) west of Chateauneuf du Pape, and the two appellations have similar soils. Yet Lirac wines have a distinct personality, frankly fruity but with a substantial texture and an ability to gain nuances with aging up to 10 years or so (versus 15 to 30 for Chateauneuf du Pape).
Established in 1986 by the Delorme brothers, Christophe and Fabrice, Domaine de la Mordoree has quickly established itself as a premier producer of both Lirac and Chateauneuf du Pape. While maintaining respect for terroir and embracing at least some biodynamic principles, the estate has also invested in state-of-the-art equipment and uses new oak for its top cuvees of Lirac and Chateauneuf du Pape--both labeled Cuvee de la Reine des Bois. This wine, the lower level Lirac (50% Grenache, 50% Syrah), is produced with basically traditional methods, although with de-stemming. The domaine lists its aging potential at four to five years, so I have kept this bottle a bit long, even for an outstanding vintage such as 1998. But it is nevertheless showing very well.
The color is a medium ruby, bright and clear, with some sediment forming. From first sniff, it's wonderfully fruity and spicy--raspberries, dark cherries, violets and garrigue--still fresh with no sign of attenuation. There is deceptive depth and concentration. In the mouth, the wine has a velvety texture--soft on the surface but with deep layers of fruit underneath. Long finish. Very fine.
If I were to base my 2007 Southern Rhone purchases on the quality and staying power demonstrated in the last outstanding vintage (1998), this wine would be on my buying list. Price, however, for me, is always a consideration, and particularly so in this economic climate. The tag on this 1998 reads $9.29; the retail price for the 2007 release is $24.99. Ouch. I'll be looking more seriously at my No. 2 selelction from Lirac, Chateau Segries, where the price increase has been less steep.