2019 Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude
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.
La Guiraude is a tête de cuvée, a barrel selection made only in vintages where it is felt there are some barrels that exhibit particularly intense and age-worthy personalities. Not necessarily a ‘better’ wine than the Domaine Crozes, it is typically more powerful and in need of longer cellaring.
The 2019 Crozes Hermitage la Guiraude was bottled in March 2021, but it is just being sold this spring (2022). It's a full-bodied, rich effort, almost a bit over the top, with bold flavors of blackberry jam, uncluttered and unsoftened by much in the way of new oak. It's concentrated and intense, a bit chewy without being overly hard, with a long, velvety finish. Drink 2025 - 2035.
Joe Czerwinski - Wine Advocate (Jan 21, 2022)
Glass-staining ruby. Cassis, cherry-cola, olive paste, exotic spices and pungent flowers on the highly expressive nose. Shows impressive depth as well as energy to its sweet black and blue fruit, allspice, salty olive and candied violet flavors, which take on a mineral aspect with air. Youthfully chewy tannins add grip to an impressively long and focused finish that emphatically repeats the floral and mineral notes. I've no doubt that this wine will reward patience, and my drinking window is probably overly conservative. Drink 2027-2037.
Josh Raynolds - Vinous