Confusion Corner: Lirac and Listrac
March 26, 2017 Leave a comment
I am back for another round of Confusion Corner! This is the fourth installment of the series in which I attempt to unravel some of the words, terms, and concepts of wine that have always confused me. After unraveling Verdelho from Verdejo, Rully from Reuilly, and Catalunya and Calatayud; this week I take on another tongue-twister: Lirac and Listrac.
First off, here is what these two things have in common: they are both AOC wine-producing regions in France, they are both well-established, and they are both primarily known for red wines (although the Lirac AOC produces whites and rosés as well). And then there are the differences…
First up—Listrac: One thing we need to get cleared up is that while it is very common to see the term Listrac used on its own; the actual name of this place is Listrac-Médoc. Listrac-Médoc is both the name of a commune (in the Gironde department) and an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) wine-producing area of the Médoc.
Listrac-Médoc sits on Bordeaux’s Left Bank, at about 45°N. Just a portion (1,650 acres/668 ha) of the commune is given over to viticulture, and those grapes that are present are surrounded by other crops, forests, and meadowlands. The vineyards of the Listrac-Médoc are located in an area known as the “limestone outcrops” and are a bit west of Gironde Estuary as well as a bit inland—away from the maritime influence and the mists of the river—and as such the area has a borderline continental climate. The area is often called “the roof of the Médoc” due to its slightly elevated perch—measured at 141 feet (43 m) above sea level. The soil is more of a limestone/clay mix as compared to the gravelly soils of the surrounding areas, and as such the vines’ roots do not grow as deeply here are they do in the more prestigious vineyards located nearby areas.
The Listrac- Médoc AOC is approved for dry red wines only. The area is mainly planted to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a small amount of Cabernet Franc and a tiny fraction of Petit Verdot and Malbec. The wines produced in this area are known for being “tightly wound” while young, but powerful and rich with a few years of age.
And in the other (confusion) corner, we have the Lirac AOC. The commune of Lirac, located in the Gard Department, is one of the four communes included in the Lirac AOC (the others are Roquemaure, Saint-Geniès-de-Comolas, and Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres).
The Lirac AOC is situated on the western side of the Southern Rhône Valley, about 300 miles to the east of Listrac-Médoc (and a bit further south, as Lirac sits at about 44°N). Red, white, and rosé wines may be produced under the Lirac AOC, and the majority of the output is red. However…the area is also known for its rosés – which makes sense when you realized that Lirac’s neighbor-to-the-south is Tavel, and that the boundary between the two wine regions is the political boundary between two communes.
Rosés from the Lirac AOC are based on a minimum of 80% Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, or Mourvèdre. The other 20% is allowed to be white grapes or Carignan (although Carignan itself is limited to a maximum of 10%).
The red wines of the Lirac AOC are typically produced from a blend based on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault. Lirac AOC rouge tends to be in the softer “Côtes du Rhône” style of red wines, but some producers are going for a bigger, bolder style of wine. Perhaps this is not surprising considered that the region’s neighbor-to-the-east is Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The Lirac AOC also produces a small amount of white wine from the typical Rhône varieties—namely Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Clairette.
And there you have it. Listrac and Lirac—confused no more.
Next up in Confusion Corner, I attempt to unravel the Grecos (Greco di Tufo, Greco Bianco, Greco di Bianco). What do you think?
References/for further information:
- Robinson, Jancis and Hugh Johnson: The World Atlas of Wine, 7th edition. London, 2013: Mitchell Bealey (Octopus Publishing Group).
- Robinson, Jancis and Julia Harding: The Oxford Companion to Wine, 4th Edition. Oxford, 2015: The Oxford University Press.
- Robinson, Jancis, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz: Wine Grapes. New York, 2012: Harper Collins Publishers
The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… firstname.lastname@example.org