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In France’s Northern Rhone Valley, there are few names as revered as Graillot. It was in 1985 that the now legendary Alain Graillot, who after working with the venerable Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac, came back to his home in Crozes-Hermitage to start his own domaine. With each passing year his devotion to the art of making hauntingly delicious Syrah from his organically farmed, stone-laden vineyards, has been rewarded with an ever growing and highly dedicated following around the world. Alain’s sons Maxime and Antoine have been in charge since 2008, with Alain working closely alongside them to this day. All the work is still completely the same as it ever was: hand-harvesting, organic farming, whole-cluster fermentation, and aging the wines primarily in 1-to-3 year old barrels purchased from some of the top estates in Burgundy. In great years, the domaine also makes tiny quantities of a barrel selection knows as “La Guiraude,” a rare and remarkably complex wine of particular distinction. The domaine’s status as one of the top domaines in all of France is without question and the whole lineup are must-haves for any serious Northern Rhone fan.
100% Syrah / 30+ year old vines / From the villages of La Chene Verts / La Guiraude comes from only the finest barrels / 100% Whole Cluster / Indigenous yeast / Fermented in concrete / Aged in 1-3 year old barrels
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. (JR)
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. (JC)