Last night a decent sized group of intrepid wine lovers trekking through snow wind and ice got together at Lenny and Susan Fox's home for some fantastic Italian fare and a vertical of Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage. As usual the company was fantastic, the conversation interesting and fun. Lenny and Susan are great hosts with an unmatched graciousness and generosity. This whole lineup as well as a starter or two and a port were furnished by the Fox's Thank you!There were some early bottles of Champagne, Riesling and a Scholium white that I did not note on.The lineup:
1998 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage The lightweight of the group. Lenny mentioned that the last time he had it he sensed it was over the hill. This had a light color, with barely a sign of aging on the edges. The fruits were very low key, if evident at all but it remained a nice glass of wine. A lightweight wine that took on more weight in the glass. It had some earth and soy notes with gravel and leather. It was the favorite of some at the table, I sensed those with a more Francophile leaning palate, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
1999 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage I sensed some VA initially that blew off after 10-15 minutes. This was surely bigger and bolder in style with some blackish fruits, tar, and earth. A medium bodied wine that had a nice finish. A very nice drink indeed. Things were coming around.
2000 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage The breakout wine for me. Somewhat new world in style, but still had its feet firmly in the old world. Big red fruits with some white pepper. The fruits were dry and a touch austere and the mouth feel fuller and plusher than the previous two. I really enjoyed this.
2003 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage Now we’re talking: smoke and pepper and cooked meats with crushed stones and blueberries. This had the biggest nose of the group that seemed to turn a bit Aussie in style as it sat in the glass, more candy notes came through on the nose. Some tartness on the palate was evident. This was the highest alcohol % yet and it showed. Its fully ripened style came shining through. This was yet even still more new world, and an interesting conversation followed about the style shifts through out the night .Its truly amazing how this vertical the lineup offered something for everyone, truly. This had a long silky finish. Nice.
2005 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage Fragrant and beautiful, this had the prettiest & brightest nose of the lineup. Dense color and bright red fruit profile on the palate. Cherries, red raspberries, and some pomegranate, this was fantastic. A nice full body with great structure and finely weaved tannin level. The acid was slightly raised, but not negative at all as the wine held its balance and surely had the fruit to back it up. In keeping with the progression of the night wines, this was the most Californian of the group. Silk and slightly chewy, I loved it. Wow
2006 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage A closed nose and a very tight palate, the youngest is surely showing its youth. I was really coaxing but this showed barely the black-red fruits and some soy and leather, but believe me, I had to swirl to find it. I am not sure of how long these were opened in advance, but this needs a few years to shed it shell and shine. Hopefully it could become just like its 1 year younger sibling, but I also sensed there was a slightly more old world Syrah hiding in there. Time will tell.
So the moral of the story is, old and new world wine lovers can co-exist...But they must like each other before they start to try.
Thanks everyone present for a great evening.