2018 Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhone, France.
One of the world’s standard barer wines, the Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage, one of its finest slash purist Syrah wines and a tremendous value for the cost, this 2018 version proving that with a cool toned flourish with vivid black fruit, spice, camphor and lively acidity. This vintage, not as dense as 2015, 2016 and or as ripe as 2017s were, makes for a more studied classic version with its purple/black and ruby edged hue and layers of blueberry, boysenberry, damson plum and kirsch fruits along with a touch of raw meat, graphite, peppercorns, Dutch salted black licorice, Olive paste, violets and minty Asian herbs. Why do these Graillot wines make our Syrah lovers hearts sing, maybe it is the Burgundy like sensibility and terroir character they deliver, especially now with Alain’s sons Maxime and Antoine running the famous estate and hand crafting the wines to honor their father, you can almost feel the pride they have in each of the wines. The legendary Alain Graillot established his winery back in 1985, who after working with the venerable Jacques Seysses (who has inspired many winemakers) at Domaine Dujac, came back to his home in Crozes-Hermitage to push this once rough and unloved region to new heights, helping raise the game here to levels that put it on par or worth mentioning alongside with its more fabled neighbors like Saint-Joseph, Cornas, Cote-Rotie and the spiritual hue of Syrah, the sacred hill of Hermitage itself.

The 2018 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage has all the right stuff to reward the enthusiast and it will please for years to come, especially with the underlying substance and extra vitality it has going for it, not that many will have the patience to wait. As per normal, the Alain Graillot Rouge, 100% Syrah, of course, was fermented using 100% whole clusters in a concrete cuve with all native or indigenous yeasts all from organic grapes grown gravelly and stony granite based soils from 30 year old vines in Graillot’s La Chene Verts parcels. Everything done in a nod to tradition and to promote clarity of flavors, but you can sense the attention to detail and careful hands in the making of this wine with a gentle guidance to bottle after seeing a year of so in all used or low influence (Burgundy sourced) French oak barrels, which allows this Syrah to show its transparent charms. Considering the whole bunches, this wine delivers a level of refinement that few Crozes can match, while hinting at Syrah’s natural funkiness and the wine has an opulent medium bodied palate with graceful tannins. As this vintage slowly opens up with air and time in the glass it gathers its aromatic quality and depth, it seriously changes dramatically as it fully unfolds, adding dimension and presence to an already very confidently impressive wine. Drinking the Graillot’s Crores-Hermitage offerings are always a treat and this bottling in particular highlights that truth, this 2018 is a rock solid wine. Enjoy this vintage with rustic cuisine, it goes brilliant with lamb, wild mushroom dishes and or short ribs, and over the next 5 to 10 years.
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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