Domaine Alain Graillot, La Guiraude, Crozes Hermitage, France
In France’s Northern Rhone Valley, there are few names as revered as Graillot. It was in 1985 that the now legendary Alain Graillot, who after working with the venerable Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac, came back to his home in Crozes-Hermitage to start his own domain. With each passing year his devotion to the art of making hauntingly delicious Syrah from his organically farmed, stone-laden vineyards, has been rewarded with an ever-growing and highly dedicated following around the world. Alain’s sons Maxime and Antoine have been in charge since 2008, with Alain working closely alongside them to this day. All the work is still completely the same as it ever was: hand-harvesting, organic farming, whole-cluster fermentation, and aging the wines primarily in 1-to-3-year-old barrels purchased from some of the top estates in Burgundy. In great years, the Domaine also makes tiny quantities of a barrel selection known as “La Guiraude,” a rare and remarkably complex wine of particular distinction. The domain's status as one of the top domains in all of France is without question and the whole lineup is a must-have for any serious Northern Rhone fan.
The Graillot residence and cellars are just outside the village of Pont de l’Isère, about 6km south of Tain-l’Hermitage. The Crozes-Hermitage vineyards are close by, on the flat, rocky land between the Isère and Rhône rivers. The best sites are at Les Chassis and Les Sept Chemins
Around Pont de l’Isère, the soil is formed from alluvial deposits of sand, gravel, rocks and stones. Despite being flat, it drains exceedingly well.
The “La Guiraude” cuvée is not a specific terroir, but a selection of the year’s best lots, chosen after Maxime, Alain and Antoine have tasted every barrel.