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Three Crozes-Hermitage From Alain Graillot

Jenn and I have been drinking a variety of Crozes-Hermitage from the excellent 2009 vintage.  I think we have drunk more bottles of Crozes this summer than in the few years prior.  Curious to try bottles with a wee bit of age we opened these three bottles.  These bottles were imported by Europvin and purchased at MacArthur’s a few years ago.

On the first night Jenn preferred the 2006 vintage with its smooth fruit and pepper notes while I preferred the darker nature of the 2005.  On the second night we rather enjoyed the 2004.  In the end I feel that the 2005 is the best of the bunch but all had pleasing aspects.  I would drink the 2004 right now, it is in a harmonious state and I do not see it gaining complexity.  The 2005 definitely needs time to gain mature flavors.  The 2006 could be drunk now for its youthfulness or aged alongside the 2005.

Alain Graillot's Vines in Crozes-Hermitage, Image by PWMWINE (flickr)

The grapes are sourced from almost 18 hectares of Crozes-Hermitage vineyard.  The vineyard is flat with soils of sand, gravel, and rocks.  According to John Livingstone-Learmonth, Alain harrows four times per year, which allows moisture to penetrate the soil, burns vine clippings on the spot, and lets grass grow in August.  These wines are 100% Syrah from fruit that was hand-harvested.  The whole bunch was fermented in concrete vats then aged for 12 months in 80% one to three-year old oak barrels and 20% in vat.

2004 Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage
This sported a medium-strength nose.  The overall profile tilted towards herbs with slight notes of pepper.  This is clearly in a more mature state than the other two with notes of pencil, mature red fruit, and a simpler finish.  The nose was rather interesting though the flavors in the mouth were simpler in comparison.  This held up well on the second night and was the least changed of the three. **(*) Now-2019.

2005 Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage
This vintage and the 2006 were the most similar.  The aromas of pepper on the nose followed through in the mouth.  The red fruit was darker in flavor with less of a grapey aspect.  There were notes of smoke and some dark roast.  On the second night it was fruitier than the 2006 with structured, drying tannins, and clean notes of pepper in the finish.  This is more intense than the 2006 with more depth to the fruit and potential for development. *** Now-2019.

2006 Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage
My daughter smelled the wine and found “raspberries.”  This wine had a nice balance of red fruit and pepper.  The flavors were smoothly delivered and mixed with obvious fine tannins throughout.  On the second night the wine was full of pepper notes, dry fruit, powdery tannins, and flavors that thinned out in the aftertaste. ** Now-2017.

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