Alain Graillot 2018 'Syrocco' Syrah, Zenata, Morocco

Alain Graillot 2018 'Syrocco' Syrah, Zenata, Morocco

Alain Graillot

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Alain Graillot 2018 'Syrocco' Syrah, Zenata, Morocco

Northern Rhône native, Alain Graillot, is recognized for his passion of Syrah. Prior to starting his own Domaine, Alain worked in Burgundy, where he received guidance from the reputable Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac. In 1985, Alain founded Domaine Alain Graillot just outside the village of Pont de l’Isère, about 6 km south of Tain-l’Hermitage. He is now considered one of the most highly sought-after producers in the Northern Rhône due to his exuberant, robust, and impeccably made Syrah-based wines.

Alain Graillot stumbled upon these vineyards and the Thalvin winery while bicycling in the Zenata region of Morocco between Casablanca and Rabat. It is a beautiful area with cool winds blowing off the Atlantic and no polluting industries. The Thalvin winery has been around since the 1920s and after some discussion, a deal was reached and Thalvin provided Graillot with parcels of Syrah vines to produce Syrocco

WINEMAKER: Alain Graillot

FARMING: Organic

VARIETIES: 100% Syrah

VINEYARD/TERROIR NOTES: Fruit is grown primarily around the winery, which is located near the village of Ben Slimane (40 km from the ocean between Casablanca and Rabat in Morocco). The wine is crafted from vines 10-40 years old (average age 25 years), using traditional, organic farming methods.

VINIFICATION NOTES: The grapes are 100% de-stemmed and fermented in closed concrete vats. Daily pump overs are done and maceration is completed in 10 days. The wine is aged for 15 months, first in tanks and then finished in large oak casks imported from Burgundy (from François Frères). 

TASTING NOTES: Generally beloved by sommeliers all over, Graillot's Crozes-Hermitage is the benchmark representation for Syrah. So, it's very exciting to taste his venture to Morocco, where he is once again demonstrating his masterful touch with Syrah. This medium-bodied wine is meaty, juicy and smoky all at once, and great everyday drinker and an amazing accompaniment to highly spiced, grilled meats and earthy stews. 

From our June 2021 Bottle Club Notes:

Alain Graillot  ‘Syrocco’ Syrah Zenata, Morocco  |  2018

    Think back to the last time you took an incredible bike ride, one where you were not commuting, just relaxing. Perhaps you were cruising through Golden Gate Park, or wandering through an unfamiliar countryside on vacation– the wind blowing through your hair, the scent of local flowers perfuming the air. And suddenly, you came upon a vista so beautiful, you’ve remembered it ever since. 

    That’s how we imagine winemaker Alain Graillot felt as he rode past the vineyards of the Domaine des Ouleb Thaleb winery while cycling in Zenata, just east of Casablanca, Morocco. The winery had been around since the 1920s, and when Monsieur Graillot came upon these organic vineyards, with bright sunshine and crisp, cooling Mediterranean winds, he saw a gorgeous, agrarian paradise. And just his luck, Syrah was already planted here in paradise. Alain and Jacques Poullaine, the oenologist of this winery, came to an agreement and the Graillots would have access to a select few parcels of Syrah. There, the Syrocco was born.

    Syrocco is made from organically farmed vines as old as 40 years. Everything from weed-pulling to grape-picking is done by hand, and the destemmed grapes ferment in their own time in closed concrete vats. The finished wine is aged for 15 months, both in cement and in large old François Frères casks imported from Burgundy. You’ll notice this is a fruit-forward wine with concentrated flavors of dark black plums, spiced fig, sandalwood, and loads of black pepper. 

    The last time Cara was in Paris, she enjoyed a bottle of Syrocco with Lamb Tagine and dates, grilled aubergine, and a mix of dips which was perfect. (In France, the wine is called Tandem reflecting a true team effort between Moroccan winery and French winemaker, and a nod to the bicycle on the label).

    We’ve waxed poetic about Alain Graillot and his family before– we are as big a fan of Alain’s eponymous home estate nestled in Crozes-Hermitage in the Northern Rhône valley where Syrah is the queen, or his sons’ Beaujolais estate, Domaine de Fa, just to the north, where Gamay is made by boys raised on Syrah vineyards.  No matter what project Alain has, this genius shines through, regardless of country.

– Cara Patricia


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