2016 Domaine Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, Northern Rhone, France.
One of the world’s most iconic Syrah wines and one of the greatest values in serious Northern Rhone offerings the Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Rouge is always treat regardless of vintage, but with a vintage like 2015 or this 2016 the wine becomes that much better. Graillot farms and makes his wines from 50 acres of 30-year-old Crozes-Hermitage vines, in the La Chene Verts (village) zone, on the flat alluvial plain between the Rhône and Isère rivers, in well-draining soils of sand, gravel, and stones that includes some granite, and he also owns a few tiny parcels in Saint-Joseph from where he makes a lighter style Syrah that is more suited for early drinking than his signature Crozes bottlings. working all organically in the vineyard, Graillot employs 100% whole-cluster grapes bunches that are fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeast and ages his wines in used barrels that he mostly purchases from a few top estates in Burgundy, making a structured and stem intense wine that always over delivers for the price, rivaling even the elite Cote-Rotie, Cornas and Hermitage stars.
The stellar 2016 is extremely age worthy, yet wonderfully enjoyable and entertaining even now with a medium/full bodied palate and fresh detailing with complex layers of crushed violets, stony earth, boysenberry, currant/cassis, black cherry, waxy blue fruits, damson plum, camphor, herbal notes, iron (mineral tones) and salted black licorice. There is so much to love in this 2016 Crozes-Hermitage right now with its youthful intensity and clear detailing it will be hard not to drink it sooner v. later, but it should age for a very long time and getting more developed with a couple more years, this is a classic vintage for Graillot. With some air this Syrah adds a few extra elements with more textural quality, it gains black fig, savory tones and a hint of meatiness. The finish echos the core of fruit and with food Graillot’s standard bearer Crozes Rouge impresses even more lingering on and on, making this a brilliant bottle.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive