Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, La Guiraude 2016
The late Alain Graillot is well known to wine lovers throughout the world, and was 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 built his reputation and fame in just 15 short years, and in an appellation that was until recently seriously despised by the cognoscenti.
He 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.
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 later 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 has become legendary, and he became 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.
94 points Vinous
Opaque ruby. A complex, expansive bouquet evokes fresh dark berries, olive, potpourri and incense, and exotic spice and mineral notes build steadily with air. Sweet, focused and penetrating on the palate, offering intense, spice-tinged boysenberry, cherry preserve and violet pastille flavors braced by a core of juicy acidity. Blends concentration and energy with a deft hand and finishes with superb, gently tannic persistence. (JR) (9/2019)
93 points Wine Advocate
Showing greater intensity and complexity than the regular bottling, the 2016 Crozes Hermitage la Guiraude also is made entirely whole cluster, yet it shows less prominent stemmy notes. Olive, roasted meat and cherry notes mingle easily on the nose and palate. This is medium to full-bodied, with silky tannins and a long, fine, elegant finish. It should drink well for over a decade. (JC) (12/2018)