2016 Domaine Equis (Maxime Graillot) “Equinoxe” Crozes-Hermitage -photo grapelive

2016 Equis, Crozes-Hermitage “Equinoxe” Northern Rhone, France.
Maxime Graillot’s Equis Equinoxe Crozes-Hermitage is one of the best values in pure terroir driven northern Rhone Syrah out there, it’s a lighter framed version, but still with great detail and varietal pleasures. The 2016 vintage is especially fun in the glass with vibrant energy and a lovely purple/garnet hue showing fresh blackberry, blueberry, plum, racy currant and tangy cherry fruits, a hint of camphor/graphite, minty herb, anisette, mineral/stone and ripe tannins along with a burst of juicy/fresh acidity. This edition is almost crisp in nature, but opens to a creamy medium weight wine with air, this shouldn’t be judged with an ultra serious eye, but rather enjoyed for it’s quaffable personality, it’s like a Beaujolais-Villages vs. Cru Beaujolais in a way, it’s brightness and barely medium weight frame make is a relaxed Syrah, while displaying all the right elements and a touch of class. Maxime uses organic grapes from sandy granite hillside vines, mostly younger here, and he de-stems 90 to 100% depending on the vintage and raises the 100% in used Burgundy barrels, usually bought from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti when available, much like Jean Foillard does for his famous Morgon Cote de Py. While not a full on natural wine guy, Maxime Graillot understood that organic and bio farming were the best route for himself, he trained under his very famous father Allain Graillot from a young age and in 2004 decided to split his time between his father’s domaine and establishing his cellar and small estate. Being a local kid, he knew where the best parcels in the Rhône’s Crozes zone, and in Saint-Joseph, were to be had, and he purchased a few tiny plots in the village of Beaumont-Monteux, just south of his pop Alain’s plots in La Chene Vert. He has converted the previously conventionally farmed vineyards to organics, making sure to soils were hand tended with great care allowing the roots to dig deeper into the gravel, which brings out concentration and terroir complexity and he banned the use of herbicides, relying on holistic treatments. His top Cru wines under Domaine des Lises and Domaine Equis are incredible wines, deeper in style, more heady and age worthy, but it’s hard to resist this joyful meant to drink young Equinoxe, it’s a wine that excites for its value and expressive style. The 2016 is going fast off the shelf and lists, so don’t wait, though the newly released 2017 shouldn’t be any less delicious!
($22 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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