The Region
The Rhone Valley wines and vineyards are amongst some of the most famous in all of France. The region is typically talked about in two halves - Northern Rhone and Southern Rhone. Like most wine regions in France, it gets its name from a river, the Rhone. It is in the Southern parts of the Rhone Valley where we take a deeper nose dive into the wines and story of Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine. The appellations of primary focus for Domaine Lafond are Tavel, Lirac, Côtes-du-Rhône and Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Some facts on Southern Rhone:

  • The region is renowned for warming, ripely welcoming and rarely expensive wines of all three colours, but mostly red.
  • Terroir/soil: sand, limestone, clay, alluvial soils and galets (the famous giant pebbles mostly found in Chateauneuf-du-Pape).
  • Climate: Mediterranean - getting hotter and drier, with regular strong winds from the NW known as the
  • Grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre (reds), and Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Clairette (whites).
  • The region is vast with many wine styles that vary from appellation to appellation. The most well known appellations are:
  • Cotes du Rhone, Cotes-du-Rhone-Villages, and Ventoux
  • The heart of Southern Rhone is Chȃteauneuf-du-Pape and its surrounding villages. The wines are deliciously warming with a sweet spice. The dominant grape here is Grenache and typically blended with Syrah and some Mourvèdre.
  • Some of its more recognised surrounding village appellations (with similar but sometimes more affordable wine styles) are:
  • Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Tavel (famous for rosé) and Lirac.
The Domaine, the Family, and the Wines

The story and first chapter of Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine began in 1780 with Pascal Odoyer, the Great-Uncle of Jean-Pierre Lafond. The Domaine has remained in the family to the present day. In 1970, Jean-Pierre built the estate, an avid racehorse fan he named it after a famous racehorse Roquepine. The second chapter dates from 1978-2012. Pascal Lafond, Jean-Pierre’s son, joined the winery in 1978. In 2001, the winery bought a plot of 87 acres in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and in 2012 Lafond became certified organic. The final chapter from 2015 to the present day sees a new generation join the winery, Jean-Baptiste, Pascal’s son. So, there is no denying the family connection to these wines and its passion for winemaking.

Over the years, the wines have won numerous awards of quality and excellence with Hachette des Vins: A Guide and Decanter World Wine Awards: A Guide. The wines are known for their consistent quality, authenticity and unique Rhone style.

The Grape Varieties and their Wine Styles

Lafond’s grapes are all estate-grown and authentic. They make three styles of wine - red, white and rosé. Their main grapes for red wines are Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre - the classic examples for Rhone wines. Their main grapes for white wines are Grenache blanc, Roussanne, and Viognier.  Their main grapes for rosé are Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan. Some rosé are topped up with some white grape juice from Picpoul, Bourboulenc to name a few.

All of their grapes are estate-grown and are all handpicked at harvest to ensure the highest quality of fruit and flavour profiles. The average age of the vines is 40-60 years further enhancing the authenticity and flavours of the grapes. It is not just the authenticity of the grapes that makes Lafond’s wines so good, it is also and possibly more important the range of soils/terroir of the estate from which the vines and grapes are grown that further influences the fruit and the final wine styles and blends. 

At Cavavin Ireland, we currently have three styles of Lafond’s wines available for you to discover, explore, and enjoy. They span across Smooth & Juicy, and Dark & Complex styles for reds and a Full & Flavoursome style of white.

AOC Cȏtes du Rhȏne

This appellation is a general one for all red, white and rosé wines. It encompasses in total 74,600 acres of vineyards. Due to the vast size of the region there is naturally a wide variation in style and quality of wines produced here. Grenache is the main grape, but is usually blended with (but not limited to) Syrah and Mourvedre grapes. The vineyards for Lafond’s Cotes du Rhone red are situated between Tavel and Lirac in the more northern sites of the region bringing freshness to wines. Their style of wine is fresh and fruit forward as a result  with no oak ageing as this preserves freshness and fruit flavours of the grapes.


Côtes-du-Rhône Roc-Épine Rouge 2021

This is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. It is a delectable red with aromas and flavours of ripe fruits - cherries, blackcurrants and hints of savoury herbs. It is a Smooth & Juicy wine style that’s soft and very charming. Perfect to accompany your favourite midweek meal or during a catch-up or gathering with friends. 

 AOC Lirac

Rosé was typically the specialty of Lirac. Today, the styles are becoming more innovative with emphasis on being fresher, paler and less traditional than some conventional Rhone wine styles. There can be some great value for money wines in Lirac with a style that is equivalent if not better in quality than the much sought after Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The essence of the Lafond wines from here is that they have fruit coming from a multitude of soils including the galets (which bring depth and roundness to the wines) making the most of what this appellation has to offer.


Lirac Rouge Roc-Épine 2020

This wine is powerful and full-bodied. It is a blend of mostly Grenache complemented with Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan. The grapes are all handpicked and fermented in stainless steel to preserve the fruit flavours. The wine is aged in new oak barrels for at least 4 months with a further 6 months ageing in bottle prior to release. All of this maturation gives complexity to the wine. This wine is Dark & Complex in style with aromas and flavours of ripe fruits and vanilla and spice. It is smooth yet rich but so well balanced. A wine to savour and enjoy with red meats of choice. 


Lirac Blanc Roc-Épine 2022

This is a beautiful white blend that shows freshness and intense fruit aromatics. It is a blend of Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. There are some few hours of skin maceration and cold fermentation of the grapes to maintain the freshness and intensity of the fruit flavours. This is a fresh yet gourmet white with a good balance of citrus and lime zest and white blossom all contributing to its liveliness and lasting complexity and fullness of flavour. It’s a great thirst quencher but also calls for some fish and seafood. An aperitif before the main meal. 

Over the years the Lirac wines hav won numerous awards - bronze, silver and gold from Concours Generale Agricole, Mundus Vini and Hachette guide. Most notably vintages 2015 and 2017. These are all awards of excellence and quality.

April 17, 2023 — Louise O'Brien