• Old Guard Hermitage: Bernard Faurie

    Old Guard Hermitage: Bernard Faurie

    From "the last of the Mohicans" to "wise old man of the hill," there are many ways importer Kermit Lynch can describe the guru of whole cluster Hermitage, Bernard Faurie. My July 2018 visit with Bernard was one I'll never forget. Primarily because of our rapid ascent up his parcels of Hermitage where I tried to keep pace with the spry and seasoned vigneron. If Hermitage is the world's most regal expression of Syrah, Bernard Faurie is surely its most ardent traditionalist.

    Today, I'm happy to offer a range of Bernard Faurie's Hermitage stretching from 2001 through 2017.

    The greatest selling point of Faurie's Hermitage comes down to Bernard's minuscule holdings of just 1.7 hectares, all comprised of vines over 100 years of age. While labels may look identical, Bernard separates Hermitage's parcels into distinct bottlings differentiated by capsule color.

    Cream capsule: Gréffieux/Bessards
    Gold capsule: Bessards/Méal
    Gold capsule with 'M': Méal
    Gold capsule w/ unique lot number: Greffieux/Bessards/Méal
    Red capsule: Bessards

    Smoke, roasted meats, black pepper, violets, blackberry, plum, and olive tapenade are quintessential descriptors of Northern Rhône Syrah. In Faurie's hands, through the most old school methods of vinification and élevage, his Hermitage captures a haunting and understated style that can floor you as much for its intensity as for its floral vitality and granitic mineral delicacy. Though shy early on, there's no Syrah that holds the freshness of fruit for decades in bottle like Bernard Faurie. A stunning bottle of 1988 made clear just what kind of glacial pace we can expect in the aging curve.

    Whole cluster Hermitage is a rarity. Many feel the true reflection of the great hill of the Northern Rhône should have a suave finesse and a clear sense of nobility. After all, the spice and accentuated tannin from 100% whole cluster Syrah can be formidable here, but that is why Faurie is in a league of his own. Bernard eschews gloss and a forward fruit style, instead targeting a savory Syrah profile with chiseled structure.

    Annual allocations from Faurie have been extremely limited due to the size of production, and that's why today I'm happy to offer this deep collection from Hermitage's old guard.

     

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • There Will be Stems:  Alain Graillot's Definitive Crozes Hermitage

    There Will be Stems: Alain Graillot's Definitive Crozes Hermitage

    Alain Graillot is to Crozes Hermitage as the Peyraud's are to Bandol: Benchmark and definitive representations of their appellations. Alain's journey to starting his domaine in 1985 began, of all places, in Burgundy alongside Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac. And, as one might imagine with Alain's Syrahs, there will be stems.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage and 2016 Crozes Hermitage La Guiraude.

    Additionally, featured below is a very special joint project between Antoine Graillot and Raul Perez, the 2017 Encinas Bierzo Tinto for just $30 per bottle.


    Prior to founding his domaine in 1985, Alain's work with Jacques imparted two key traits. He wanted his wines to be both supremely fresh and spicy. Certainly elegance is part of this equation too, and as temperatures have warmed in the last 34 years, Graillot continues to be a beacon for Rhône enthusiasts passionate about terroir-driven wines that are steeped in an unwavering traditionalist approach.

    Alain's two sons both produce Syrah under their own labels, but the eponymous domaine is still unwavering in their use of 100% whole clusters for fermentation and aging only in older wood - divided between barrique and foudre.

    La Guirade is not a single vineyard, but rather a selection of the best barrels, as Alain tastes through these personally each vintage.

    Crozes Hermitage has long been a great appellation for those looking for value when it comes to the best producers working in the most esteemed parcels. But, even as Graillot's wines nail the value element, they stand out from the pack, as he is undoubtedly the benchmark name in this zone of the Northern Rhône valley.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen