Alain Graillot’s Crozes-Hermitage is often quite good, so when the 2010 vintage was released in Sweden on 1 October (yes, that’s quite late compared to many other markets) I took the opportunity to test a bottle, and opened a half-bottle of the 2009 vintage for comparison.
Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2010
Compact blue-red colour. Rather berry-domainated nose with blackberries, dark cherries, and forest raspberries, some liquorice and discrete floweriness, some spice with notes of cloves, some pine needles and resin, and a hint of oak barrels. Medium bodied, the attack is dominated by fruit and in particular cherries, notably acidic (sour cherries) from the attack, a rather strong pepperiness sets in mid-palate after which medium tannins progressively take over, in combination with “sour berries”. The finish is fresh. The tannins definitely kick in late on the palate. A fresh and well made Crozes, drinkable now. 88 p.
I’d describe this as a good Crozes-Hermitage in “medium style” both with respect to power/concentration and amount of oak, and it is without fault within that style. More of a standard Crozes style and less sweetish than the 2009, and better than the 2008 without any of its “weak vintage” hints. Well, I suppose I just described the general style of the 2010 vintage in northern Rhône, so in a sense the wine was as expected. The fresh and noticeable acidity makes it accessible already. Since this is a classically built wine of its kind it can probably be expected to be hiding in the Syrah tunnel at some 4-8 years of age, so drink it during the next 1-2 years or put it away and bring it out of the cellar from approximately 2018.
Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2009
From a half bottle.
Compact blue-red colour, slightly more dense than the 2010 and with slightly darker edge. Rather powerful nose with blackberries and other dark berries, tar, smoke, spice, some animal notes and a hint of barnyard aromas. Ripe cherries and other dark berries, some note of sweet fruit in the attack, good acidity, tar and liquorice, slightly more than medium tannin that are rather noticeable mid-palate and in the aftertaste. Drinkable now, should improve with more developed notes and slightly more polished tannins. 88+ p.
This wine has developed some mature notes in 1,5 years, at least in a half bottle. Compare to my tasting note from March 2011:
Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2009
From a half bottle, 6 March 2011.
Compact, blueish dark red colour. Slightly sweetish fruity nose with very dark berries – blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries, in combination with some some, tar and some spice (a very typical Syrah nose), some oak barrel notes, some vanilla. A serious nose. Slightly more than medium bodied, on palate sweet dark berries with clearly marked acidity – perhaps “cranberry-tasting blackberries”, noticeable tannin that is rather well embedded in the fruit. Good concentration. 87-88 p. Could have potential for a higher score, would benefit from calming down for a few months, because the palate gives a slightly disjointed impression.
Compared to the 2010, the fruit component is slightly darker, and there is more of sweet fruit on the palate, but still a fresh acidity. In a way you could say that the 2009 shows a tiny bit of Hermitage style, but still in a “sour berry” costume, some perhaps bit of “prestige Crozes style” is a more correct description. It don’t want to exaggerate the size of the difference between the 2009 and 2010, but there is definitely a noticeable difference. The question is if the 2009 will go into the tunnel for a few years or develop gradually throughout its life? Nothing today suggests it’s heading for the tunnel, and half bottles usually develop faster.
The Swedish version of this post can be found here.