In a nutshell: A velvety and silky southern Rhône blend from just across the river to Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The lowdown: While certainly not as well known as its neighbour Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which it faces on the opposite side of the River Rhône, the wines that come from here have a lot in common, but at much more accessible prices. Moulin des Chênes is actually made under the auspices of Laurent and Julien Bréchet of Château de Vaudieu after they acquired some Lirac vineyards. The 2016 blend comprises 37% Cinsault, 36% Syrah with the balance being made up of Grenache and Mourvèdre and after fermentation the wine was aged in concrete vats for 10 months prior to bottling. On the nose it's got aromas of strawberries and blackberries which is followed by rich black fruits, subtle oak spice, pepper, clove, cedar, liquorice, and fresh herbs on the palate. Well supported by smooth tannins, it's velvety and silky and with a fresh acidity it leads to a nicely mouthwatering finish.
When to drink: Everything you'd hope for from a good Southern Rhône red, pair it with things like beef, duck and other rich feathered game.
Moulin des Chênes is run by Laurent Bréchet of Château de Vaudieu. Laurent and his brother, Julien, had always admired the potential of Lirac in the Southern Rhône. When the owner of the 25 hectare Moulin des Chênes vineyard retired, the brothers jumped at the chance to take over the estate.
Lirac lies to the west, across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape with a viticultural heritage that is just as impressive. Conditions for the two areas are similar, both have over 2,500 hours of sunlight per year and a dry growing season that ensures consistently ripe, flavoursome wines. Lirac also has stony soils, with 'galets roulés' pudding stones supported by red clay underneath. The main difference is the influence of the Mistral, which is slightly milder in Lirac.