Alain Graillot founded his Domaine in Crozes-Hermitage in 1985, and rapidly became one of the most in-demand producers in the Northern Rhone for his exuberant, robust, and complete Syrah-based wines. Alain owns 50 acres of 30-year-old Crozes-Hermitage vines on the flat alluvial plain between the Rhône and Isère rivers, in well-draining soils of sand, gravel, and stones. He also has two tiny parcels in St. Joseph, from which he makes a slightly fresher, more early-drinking wine than the remarkable Crozes-Hermitage that constitutes the majority of his production.
Alain harvests by hand and works organically, employing whole-cluster fermentation and aging the wines primarily in 1-to-3 year old barrels purchased from some of the top estates in Burgundy. Graillot’s wines are structured, but still very appealing and approachable in their youth, and their longevity is truly remarkable…
Blend: 100% Syrah
Average age of the vines: 25 years old (some of the Hermitage vines are now 80 years old)
Soil: 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 Hermitage holdings (just .12 hectares) are on hard granite slopes.
Average No. cases/year: 5000
From the importer Michael Skurnik’s web page/ --KL Wines
"Alain Graillot's estate is the source of some of the best Crozes-Hermitage on the market. His vineyards, on the flat plains north of Valence, produce Syrah that goes into varietally acurate, typical, food-friendly red wines. (wineaccess.com)
"Alain Graillot, Crozes Hermitage 2007 In the nose you sense the classic black pepper along with a meatiness and herbal character, perhaps hinting at rosemary and thyme. In the mouth this is a structured Syrah, acidic and tannic, delicious and long." (Ray Johnson)
Rhones Vignobles - A taste for wine, a taste for people
In the beginning, what brought them together was a taste for wine. A taste for authentic wine respectful of its terroir. And also a keenness to talk about it together to their customers in France and beyond. Then over the years - 17 already - Rhône Vignobles has established its philosophy with impeccable style, providing background music that gives the group an upbeat tempo. It is a philosophy with a natural bedrock: a taste for other people, period. They will all, without exception, tell you of the humanism that permeates the group. Rivalry is never an issue; among them, what matters is friendship, esteem, trust, sharing and emotions. They will all describe the strength they derive from moving forward as one. Alone, they would sometimes have stopped progressing or simply not have dared to. But as a group, nothing has checked their momentum – far from it! If one of them knows or implements something that another is unaware of, sharing and advising is not a problem. If one has a veteran’s experience, he will readily let the most recent arrival tap it. They travel together, discover new consumers together, visit other estates together, attend technical lectures together, taste their wines together, get together at each other’s homes to toss ideas around, party together... This is their life, and they shrug off its constraints. Is it all down to good fortune? No, just the desire to succeed as a group, as they have succeeded in their lives as wine growers.
At Rhône Vignobles, some growers are organic and have the label, others are but do not, while others still are currently being certified. Some apply or are trialling biodynamics. Others, meanwhile, work to culture raisonnée principles. To be more precise, they all refuse to be confined by a grape-growing format. They cultivate their vines sensibly, mindful – as good, eco-friendly citizens – that soils must be respected and the environment protected. Revolutionaries, no. “Terroirists”, certainly. One day they will hand down their viticultural heritage, and not for anything would they bequeath asepticised land. They just want to see how happy their children are, breathing earth that is fresh and alive.
One of nature's activists
By the time you leave Alain Graillot, everything you imagined about him has been set straight. A hard-core organic grower? Pragmatic, rather, never accepting a label that would padlock his methods. Years ago, he was an engineer in the agrochemical industry. That part of his past subsequently saved him lots of time: no weedkillers, no pointless treatments. A self-assured man? A perpetual observer of nature, let’s say, because he feels it is “the basis of agriculture”. The previous owner of his estate worked all the vines by hand, they were well rooted. When he bought it in 1988, Alain Graillot could not imagine doing otherwise. A man backed by his reputation? Let’s say he never claims to know it all; he always listens to others, even with 20 years under his belt. With his son Maxime, now working alongside him, he has “gained and learned a great deal”. An intransigent man? Exacting, let’s say. Each morning, he happily heads off to his vines, repeating that he’s going to “make some good wine” and that he will never let down his Burgundy grower friends, “they’ve been there since day one, and we’ll never be ashamed of their help”. A partisan? Let’s say committed to keeping his freedom of choice: joining an anti-GM crop group is his way of flouting the rules laid down by the great powers of the food industry. A traditional father? Let’s say anxious to pass on his artisanal craft to Maxime, so that this ancestral farming expertise is never lost. By the time you leave Alain Graillot, you say to yourself that you have met a free man; that the earth is firmly anchored in his head and feet. - From the Rhone Vignobles website.