In the space of 20 years Alain Graillot has established a reputation for making his Crozes Hermitage the most sought after of the appellation. In spite of only 20 hectares of vineyards, his wines are sold world wide on an allocation basis only. They are a special favourite with the most prestigious restaurants in France and elsewhere. Alain has a passion for the Syrah grape from which he makes hand crafted wines of great distinction and enormous elegance. His son Maxime has taken over direction of the estate with his father remaining in the not too distant background.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING All the grapes are hand-harvested, from severely-pruned, low-yielding vines. On arrival at the cellars, the white grapes go straight into the pneumatic press. After settling, 50% of the must is fermented in barrel (one year old oak bought from top Burgundy producers such as Sauzet). The other 50% is given a long, cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks, with temperatures controlled at 18°C. Graillot deliberately avoids malolactic, thus preserving acidity, and blends the components at the end of the winter. The wine is sterile filtered and bottled in April or May following the vintage. The red Crozes-Hermitage grapes are not destemmed. They are loaded into lined concrete vats, and temperatures are brought down to 18°C for a 2 to 5 day pre-fermentation maceration. Once vinifications get going, temperatures rise to 30°C, and cuvaison lasts 15 to 21 days. The young wines are aged for one year - 80% of them in one to 3 year old oak barrels, the remaining 20% in vat. They are given a light filtration but no fining before bottling. The "La Guiraude" cuvée is not a specific terroir, but a selection of the year's best lots, chosen after Alain has tasted every barrel. The Saint-Joseph is made the same way as the Crozes, but from destemmed grapes. The Hermitage grapes are also destemmed, and then fermented in a small, shallow vat with pigeage by foot. The wine is aged in one year old oak for 12 to 18 months.
NOTES ON THE PROPERTY Alain Graillot is well known to wine lovers throughout the world, and is universally regarded as one of the most talented producers not only in the Rhône, but in the whole of France. What is extraordinary is that he has built his reputation and fame in just 20 short years, and in an appellation that was until recently seriously despised by the cognoscenti. He has proved that even (or should we say particularly) from the flat land near the Isère river confluence, it is possible to make rich, concentrated reds that demonstrate everything that is exciting about the Syrah grape - the explosive black fruit, the aromatic intensity, the pepper and spice complexity, all supported by crisp acidity and good tannins. They are difficult to resist young, but patient cellaring is well-rewarded.