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swirl and savor

Wine of the Moment, the 2010 Duseigneur Antares Lirac

Beth Ribblett

The Duseingeur Lirac is is one of those special finds has a lot going for it in that under $25 price range. We've been carrying the 2009 but just received our first case of the 2010, which gave me the perfect excuse to pop a cork tonight with beef stew I've been slow cooking all day...

First of all let's talk about Lirac.  Most people know the Rhone Valley, even some of the important villages like Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and the appellation of Chateauneuf-du-Pape of course.  But Lirac is the oldest wine producing area of the Rhone and turns out stellar reds, rose' and some whites.  It is actually located directly across the river of its famous counterpart, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and shares a similar terroir.  Those huge galets roulés, the rust and cream colored, smooth, rounded stones ranging in size from a large tomato to a football, are spread throughout the vineyards. The stones retain heat during the day and release it at night which helps ripen the grapes. The stones can also serve as a protective layer to help retain moisture in the soil during the dry summer months.

Typical Southern Rhone red varieties of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault dominate the blends with the style of Lirac often resembling a soft Côtes du Rhône-Villages.  The more ambitious wines are often compared to Châteauneuf-du-Pape but at half the price. Rosé Lirac is usually similar to those full bodied wines from neighboring Tavel.

Domaine Duseigneur is a small family wine producer in Lirac run by the brothers Frederic and Bernard and a famous French sommelier, Philippe Faure-Brac.  The brothers see themselves more as farmers than a winemakers, believing that the most important thing is what happens in the vineyard. Since 1997 the estate has been meeting the requirements of organic farming. Wanting to take this concept even further the Duseigneur brothers fully embraced biodynamic farming in 2004.

The Antarès is an old vine blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre vinified separately after 3 to 4 weeks of maceration in concrete tanks. The nose has a touch of barnyard with dark fruit and a little spice.  The lack of oak allows for pure expression of the fruit on the palate and one of those wines that keeps revealing something new in every sip.  

2010 Domaine Duseigneur Lirac Antares, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 90 pts.
The 2010 Lirac Antares is composed of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre aged in cement tanks and is bottled unfiltered. It is a richer effort displaying more roasted meat notes as well as bluer, darker fruits. This full-bodied, pure impressively endowed Lirac was made from low yields of 30 hectoliters per hectare.  This outstanding Lirac estate is an emerging star in the southern Rhone. From their biodynamic and/or organic vineyards, they produce three separate cuvees of Lirac.