80% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne
Grapes are pressed upon arrival at the winery. After settling, 50% of the must is fermented in barrel (1-year-old oak from top Burgundy producers such as Sauzet). The other 50% is given a long, cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine avoids malolactic to preserve the acidity and freshness.
Now in the midst of passing daily operations to his sons Maxime and Antoine, the domaine has been given two stars and is listed as the highest rated Crozes Hermitage producer in the top wine guide of France, “Le Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France.”
Most of the vines were planted in 1973, are managed with organic principles, and have been referred to as “Gnarled, yet manicured.” The ground cover is rolled stones, about the size of your fist (some even larger as shown in the photo below) and alluvial deposits of sand, gravel, and these smooth river stones formed the soil.
In 1985 Alain Graillot formed his domaine in Crozes Hermitage and quickly became one of the most sought after producers in the region, certainly a podium level position within the appellation. What brought about that popularity though?
It could have been the vintages he spent learning under Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac. The well-draining gravelly and sandy soils of his vineyards certainly have an important roll. His deft use of whole-cluster fermentation is credited as important. Organic farming, harvesting by hand, 30-year old vines…Yes-Yes-Yes. Finally let’s not forget how he utilizes 1-3 year old barrels from top Burgundy producers in which to age his wines before bottling.
All these practices lead to wines that define an appellation by truly representing the varietal and its potential within that terroir. As all of us continually gain knowledge we realize that a producer’s ability to properly work their vineyards throughout the course of a year, and then not overwork the wines during fermentation and aging in the cellar, is of utmost importance.