I recently tried three red wines from Domaine du Joncier, located in the Lirac appellation of southern Rhône. All three are blends, but with one dominant variety each: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. A common feature of the wines is that they are produced with no oak, and have instead been vinified in concrete tanks. The producer is organically certified and practices biodynamics.
Lirac is one of several neighbouring appellations of Châteauneuf-du-Pape sharing grape varieties and with an increasing number of serious wine producers. What is a bit particular for Lirac is that the wines of the appellation are available in white, rosé and red, which means that it is a bit like Châteauneuf-du-Pape (red and white) + Tavel (rosé). But this time I only tasted red wines.
Le Gourmand 2011 – Grenache-dominated
70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Carignan and Cinsaut.
Nose with ripe red and some dark berries, slightly perfumed, clean nose. Fruity on the palate, rather good concentration, red berries including cranberries, sour berry impression, medium(-) tannins, medium acidity, aftertaste with berries. Fruity impression, the sweetness present is balanced by the presence of some “bite”, rather foody. Can definitely be drunk now, but without problems also be cellared for at least 1-2 years. 87-88 p.
Most easily drinkable of the three, in line with what you could expect from a Grenache-dominated wine.
Le Classique 2011 – Syrah-dominated
45% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 20% Carignan and Cinsaut.
Nose with ripe red and dark berries, some sweet berries, some flowers. Fruity palate, good concentration, ripe and sweet dark berries, medium(+) tannins, spice, some bitterness. Darker and more “tough” notes than Le Gourmand. Rather accessible now, but 1-3 years of cellaring would only do it well, and it can take more than that. 88-89 p.
My favourite of the three wines, but I usually like Syrah best of the GSM trio. Compared to “septentrional” Syrah, i.e., those from northern Rhône, such as Crozes-Hermitage, this wine is slightly sweeter in its notes and less peppery. The sweet notes are probably due to the combination of a more southern origin and the rather large minority of Grenache in the blend. In terms of cellaring I don’t think it should be cellared as long as a varietally pure Syrah and I guess that the wine, since it is a blend with some sweet fruit notes, will not enter the “Syrah tunnel” (otherwise at approx 4-8 years).
Les Muses 2010 – Mourvèdre-dominated
80% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah.
Nose with quite a bit of dark berries, some red berries (raspberries?), slightly flowery note, leather, some barnyard aromas. Differs some from the nose of the previous two, with its Mourvèdre notes. Dark and some red berries on the palate, some berry sweetness, medium+ tannins and noticeably tannic. It is slightly accessible by virtue of the sweetness of fruit, but mostly it shows a typically tough Mourvèdre style. Would benefit from 2-7 years of cellaring, but could surely take more than that. 88+ p.
An alternative to waiting until the wine softenes somewhat is of course to serve it to a tannin junkie, or to use the old trick to pair it with salty food, such as salty cheeses, which will reduce the tannic impression.
Although the wines differ in their aromas, where their respective grape variety shone through clearly, probably due to the absence of oak, they show a stylistic similarity. They are all fruity and are more or less flowery or perfumed in their nose. It is also worth noting something that isn’t found in any of my description above: there’s nothing about a fiery character or noticeable alcohol. To me, this is very positive, since this is always a risk for southern Rhône wines. For being “méridional” Rhône wines, the wines of du Jonciers, must be considered to be on the firm and aromatically pure side rather than obviously hot, although they definitely are fruity.
Swedish version of this post here.