2018 Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage
Alain Graillot has proved beyond a doubt that it is possible to make rich wines from the gently sloped alluvial plain where the Isère River meets the Rhone. His concentrated reds demonstrate all that is exciting about the Syrah grape: black fruit, intense aromaticity, pepper and spice complexity underpinned by crisp acidity and fine tannins.
Graillot works organically, harvesting fruit by hand and fermenting in whole bunches. He chooses to age his wines in used barrels, one to three-years-old, purchased from Burgundy’s best estates. His Crozes-Hermitage is difficult to resist young. Despite the tannins that inevitably come from the inclusion of whole bunches in fermentation, Graillot wines are seldom hard-edged, overly tannic, or in need of extended cellaring. In fact, they are often flat-out delicious very soon after release. That being said, their track record for rewarding patient cellaring is exemplary.
Maxime Graillot was confident that he will bottle a La Guiraude from 2018, but the selection hadn't yet been made at the time of my visit. This barrel of 2018 Crozes Hermitage shows superb aromatics, with hints of black tea accenting cassis and blueberry fruit. Full-bodied, rich and velvety, it reveals some chocolaty notes yet remains remarkably fresh on the finish.
Joe Czerwinski - The Wine Advocate (Feb 2020)
Inky ruby. Mineral- and spice-accented aromas of ripe dark berries and candied violet show outstanding clarity and lift. At once rich and energetic in the mouth, offering juicy blackberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors that slowly turn sweeter on the back half. Shows outstanding clarity on the long, penetrating finish, which features well-judged tannins and lingering floral and spice notes.
Josh Raynolds - Vinous
Alluring, with alder, juniper and bay leaf aromas already pulling you in before the crushed cherry and plum fruit shows itself. An iron note curls around the finish, pulling everything together and bringing you back for more. Drink now through 2028.
James Molesworth - Wine Spectator