Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage Rouge 2011
Graillot began making wine in 1985, having tired of life as Marketing Manager for a large French agricultural equipment company. He was lucky to benefit from the advice of friends such as Paul Jaboulet, Jean-Louis Grippat, and Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac in Burgundy, and immediately struck vinous gold. This led him, in 1988, to buy the vineyards he had previously rented, to which he has since added land in Saint-Joseph and even a few vines on the Hermitage hill - just enough to make 2 barrels a year!
The quality of Graillot wines is now legendary, and he has become the father-figure to a whole new generation of young Rhône producers. And if appellations such as Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph now offer some of the best wine values in the Rhône, it is in no little part thanks to Alain's groundbreaking work.
Crozes-Hermitage is Northern Rhone’s largest appellation, surrounding the steep granite faces of Hermitage to its north and south. Here the rolling vineyards are less extreme and its soils, rich in clay-limestone and alluvial matter, produce Syrahs that range from fruity and charming to lush and seductive. The Syrahs of Crozes-Hermitage have more mass than those from St. Joseph but are less intense than those from Hermitage. While many are intended for early consumption, some of the best Syrahs from Crozes-Hermitage will age beautifully for 5-10 years.
Up to 15% of white grapes may theoretically be added to red Crozes at the time of fermentation but whether this is done or not depends on the decision of the winemaker. The best Crozes-Hermitage Syrahs will be fleshy with black fruit (currant, blackberry and black cherry) and bay leaf qualities, notes of tar and stone, and a well-concentrated finish of smooth tannins.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”