Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2016 

 July 8, 2023

By  rackhouse

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 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.

The principal white grapes in Syrah-dominated Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage have received so much attention as “Rhone Ranger” varietals in California, it’s worth revisiting Marsanne and Roussanne on their home turf. Hand-picked Marsanne, 80%, and Roussanne, 20%, grapes are gently pressed, and 50% are fermented and aged in older, used oak barrels while the other half is given a long, cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine avoids malolactic to preserve acidity and freshness. This is classic white Crozes, and made for food, particularly freshwater fish like rainbow trout.

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Kung Fu Girl – Riesling; Ancient Lakes, Washington; 2023


VDR – Petit Verdot + Petit Sirah; Hames Valley, Monterey, California 2021

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