A flying visit to Mordorée

La Mordorée is an evocative name, a nod to the bronze-gold colour of the woodcocks hunted in the surrounding countryside and a way for Francis Delorme to combine his passions when he founded the domain in 1986. This estate has become a landmark wine producer in the southern Rhône, following a family line that began with Francis, passed on to his sons Christophe and Fabrice, and now finds Madeleine and Ambre at its helm.

The story of this domain begins in 1986 when Francis Delorme, at the time a wine-enthused industrialist, founded his own domain. Whilst his family roots in the wine industry dated back to the 17th century, he had only produced a few bottles for his loved ones and himself up until that point. A nickname used for the woodcock – la mordorée – was picked as an auspicious name for the domain, and thus it was christened in Tavel, a few kilometres from Avignon. This bird is a reoccurring symbol, appearing on the bottles and referred to in the naming of certain cuvées: la Reine des Bois and la Dame Rousse…

Rigour has always been central to the work carried out at La Mordorée. Without this guiding principle, its success may not have grown in quite the same way. Christophe accompanied his father from the beginning of the project, one that was founded on a demanding work ethic in both the vineyard and the cellar. They bought their land little by little, growing the domain to the 60 hectares it possesses today. It was welcomed into the fold of the South Rhône’s new generation of fine wine producers, producing both red and white wine in the appellations of Lirac and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, as well as rosés in Tavel. All have been made in a rather ‘modern’ style, aiming for power and concentration in the final result. The ambition for international recognition was there from the start, a goal that has been achieved. Famous wine critic Robert Parker actually classed La Mordorée in his ranking of the world’s top 155 domains.

In the 1990s, Christophe was assisted by his brother Fabrice, who later found himself flying solo in 2015 when Christophe suddenly passed away. Today, it’s Madeleine (Christophe’s widow) and their daughter Ambre who manage the domain. Ambre certainly inherited much of her father’s character, continuing to propel the domain forwards as it becomes a solid reference for the region, receiving three stars from Bettane and Desseauve.

Over the last few years, La Mordorée has been taking further steps, crossing the threshold of organics and then biodynamics. From the growing of the vines to harvest, all the work in the vineyard is carried out by hand. This is the Delorme spirit. Economic concerns aren’t at the forefront of their minds; they seek the best at every stage to get the result that counts. So every effort is put into the 60 hectares of vines cultivated, around 15 of which belong historically to the family and used to be utilised for the crafting of a ‘homemade’ wine. They practice severe pruning of the plants, herbicides are banned, and green harvesting is their method of choice.

In the winery, the aim is to respect the grapes and their terroir. What they are looking for is a concentrated wine with mellow tannins, a dense texture, and good fruit. And this is what they achieve. The cuvées are matured in oak casks, and the effects of this process can be sensed upon tasting the wine. If you’re after more details, I’m afraid they’re in short supply, as this is a domain that likes to keep its secrets…We can be sure that if they’re hiding something, it’s something pretty good.

See the range of wines from Domaine de la Mordorée here