91-93/100 Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
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Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Joe Czerwinski, jan. 2020) : 91-93/100. Maxime Graillot was confident that he will bottle a La Guiraude from 2018, but the selection hadn't yet been made at the time of my visit. This barrel of 2018 Crozes Hermitage shows superb aromatics, with hints of black tea accenting cassis and blueberry fruit. Full-bodied, rich and velvety, it reveals some chocolaty notes yet remains remarkably fresh on the finish. Drink date 2020-2030.
Maxime Graillot (Alain's son) manages this superb domaine, located on the broad plains of les Chassis. Unfortunately, Graillot estimates they lost 50% of their crop in 2019 because of hail damage. Thankfully, the domaine is looking at two very good years in 2017 and 2018. "In 2018, we had exactly the same year we had in '17—the big difference was yield." While yields in '17 were 42-43 hectoliters per hectare, in 2018 they were only 34 hectoliters per hectare. "Twenty percent less—and everything has changed," said Graillot. "If you have good yields, it can mitigate the sun's effects." He describes '15 and '18 as more sunny, while '16 and '17 are more terroir driven. The Alain Graillot reds are always made with 100% whole clusters, so when young, they often show herbal, tea-like and even ashy notes from the stems. Those same stems also impart a texture that I find compelling in these wines, particularly with a few years of age.