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Robert Parker, Wine Advocate - November 2018 - Montfaucon tasting

Rodolphe de Pins and Yann de la Chanonie

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate - November 2018

This historic property sits next to the Rhône on its western bank, looking across the valley to the Dentelles de Montmirail and Mont Ventoux in the distance. The current owner, Rodolphe du Pins, has been making wine at the property since 1995. He's a proponent of the Lirac appellation and the Clairette grape, with the estate's top white wine coming from 140-year-old Clairette vines. "Sixteen was just an amazing year," he said. "For whites as well as reds."

2016 Chateauneuf du Pape, 95 points

From a single patch of 80-year-old vines in the lieu-dit of les Escondudes, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape is 95% Grenache, matured in barrel. Yet it's not oaky at all, revealing scents of black cherries and plums, plus hints of garrigue and dark chocolate. It's full-bodied, creamy and plush yet also vibrant, mouthwatering and long. It should drink well for at least a decade.

2015 Lirac Baron Louis, 93 points

The rich, tannic 2015 Lirac Baron Louis spent a year in barrel, a year in tank and a year in bottle prior to release. It offers up scents of leather, cedar and vanilla, but it balances out the oak with dark fruit notes of cola, plum and spice. It's full-bodied and velvety on the palate, while hints of licorice emerge on the lengthy finish. This wine has clearly emerged as one of the top Liracs.

2016 Lirac Blanc Vin de Mme la Comtesse, 93 points

The 2016 Lirac Blanc Vin de Mme la Comtesse has been bottled under the Lirac appellation for the first time (it was previously a Côtes du Rhône). A barrel-fermented Clairette from 140-year-old vines, it's crisp and tight, with tightly wound notes of quinine and lime. Medium to full-bodied, it also offers balanced notes of toasted grain and anise on the long finish. It's a terrific example of Clairette's potential.

2017 Lirac Blanc Comtesse Madeleine, 90 points

Fermented and aged seven months in used oak (from one to seven years old), the 2017 Lirac Blanc Comtesse Madeleine is a blend of 40% Marsanne, 35% Clairette, 20% Grenache Blanc and 5% Picpoul. Pencil shavings frame tropical notes of pineapple and guava on the nose, while the medium to full-bodied palate is custardy and silky in texture, with a faint, bitter edge underscoring the long finish.

2017 Cotes du Rhone Blanc, 90 points

Mostly Clairette, with up to 20% Grenache Blanc and Viognier (combined), the 2017 Cotes du Rhone Blanc features alluring scents of honey, tangerine and lime. Medium to full-bodied, it's silky in texture, while retaining crisp focus on the long finish. Drink it over the next year or two.

2016 Lirac red, 91 points

A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, the 2016 Lirac was bottled just a couple of weeks before my visit. Perhaps as a result, it was somewhat reticent at first but later opened to reveal opulent, velvety notes of cola and dried spices. It's medium to full-bodied, with dark fruit and a long, rich finish.

2016 Cotes du Rhone red, 90 points

The silky 2016 Cotes du Rhone is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise. Cherries, garrigue and leather notes all come together in this medium to full-bodied but gentle, elegant wine. It's smooth from start to finish, with fine-grained tannins and hints of thyme that emerge on the finish.

2016 Baron Louis, 92 – 94 points

The 2016 Lirac Baron Louis is a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Cinsault, 10% Carignan and 5% Mourvèdre that spends a year in oak, then a year in tank, and it will spend a year in bottle prior to release. At this stage, it pushes all the pleasure buttons, delivering ripe raspberries and Madagascar vanilla in a full-bodied format. It's plush, creamy and expansive on the palate, finishing rich and velvety.

2016 Mr le Baron, 92 – 94 points

This vintage is the first year to be sold as a Lirac instead of a table wine. The 2016 Lirac Vin de Mr Baron contains 16 different varieties, harvested in three different picks but all co-fermented in the same vat. It then spent the usual two years in barrel and was in tank when I visited. This medium to full-bodied wine shows extremely promising plum and licorice aromas and flavors, a rich, velvety texture and ample concentration, plus subtle accents of cedar and vanilla. If aging follows past practice, it should be released in 2021.


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