In Crozes-Hermitage, people speak about a time before Graillot and a time after Graillot, such is the extent of his contribution to the appellation’s reputation since 1985. Following in his father’s footsteps, Alain Graillot’s talented son Maxime is now at the helm of the renowned estate.
Among the names that have contributed to the reputation of Crozes Hermitage, that of Alain Graillot immediately stands out for the finesse of his Syrahs and the beautiful structure of his wines. A know-how that is also applied to the Saint-Joseph wines of the domain.
There was the father, Alain, and now there is the son, Maxime, who has been working on the estate since 2008. After obtaining a diploma in oenology in Dijon, the young man is continuing the path laid out by the founder. Alain Graillot, originally from Paris, turned to wine in the mid-1980s and set up his own business at the age of 41 in 1985 on an 18-hectare estate in the Crozes-Hermitage appellation on the Châssis plateau, where the vines were in good condition and not polluted by chemicals. The vineyard now comprises 18 ha of Syrah for the reds and 2.5 ha of Marsanne (80%) and Roussanne (20%) for the whites. He also produces Saint-Joseph in the communes of Saint-Jean de Muzols and Saint-Dézirat, a total of 1 ha. Alain Graillot also owns a tiny plot of 1000 m2 in Hermitage, in the Greffieux district. He trained on the job thanks to the advice of friends who are winegrowers from the Rhône and Burgundy.
Maxime’s arrival marked a new stage: new installations (wine storehouse and cellar) were built, more practical for working. After working on his own estate, Maxime has been making wine at his father’s place since the 2008 vintage. Alain Graillot, a dynamic retiree, continues to work in the wine industry, advising estates in Morocco and Spain. The son continues his father’s practices: low yields, short pruning and light manuring, no herbicides, ploughing the soil. The grapes are harvested by hand, and the grapes are generally not destemmed.
What the guides say about it :
Guide RVF des meilleurs vins de France (**)
Maxime, Alain’s son, now supervises all the vinifications on this property, which covers more than twenty hectares. For many years, it has illustrated the qualitative potential of the Crozes-Hermitage appellation, which was long reduced to the production of simply fruity wines. Located in the heart of the alluvial plain of pure pebbles and gravel of La Roche-de-Glun, the estate produces Syrahs that are finer and more structured than most in the sector. Their strength lies in the immediate pleasure they give, while being able to age with complexity over ten years due to the addition of whole grapes. La Guiraude is certainly one of the best wines of the appellation.
The wines: three reds presented for tasting. In a difficult vintage, the 2012 Crozes-Hermitage remains perfectly precise (pepper and kirsch), with good density and a clean, medium-bodied finish. The plot-based La Guiraude cuvée always plays its own music; at first discreet, with finesse, it reveals itself in its lengthy, woven mouthfeel. Always more tender and accessible when young, the Saint Joseph (destemmed) can already be enjoyed with its milky roundness.
16/20 Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude 2012
15/20 Crozes-Hermitage 2012 // 15/20 Saint-Joseph 2012
Guide Bettane + Desseauve (**)
Alain Graillot has passed the reins to his son Maxime who shares the same philosophy and who set up the estate in 2008 after obtaining a degree in oenology. Originally from Vienne, after a first life in industry, Alain Graillot acquired with the help of friends 18 hectares of vines in Crozes-Hermitage, including three hectares of white, in the heart of the alluvial plain of pebbles and gravels known locally as Les Châssis. At the time, a hectare of Crozes was not worth much. Today, thanks to its wines, the appellation has regained its reputation.
The wines: Excellent 2012 reds, in the best tradition of the estate, generously fruity and immediately good to drink.
15/20 Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude 2012 (their favourite)
14.5/20 Crozes-Hermitage White 2012
14/20 Crozes-Hermitage Red 2012