St-Joseph "Equis" Domaine des Lises & Equis, Maxime Graillot 2014
Maxime is now in charge of Alain’s domaine and has added a small 6.5ha holding in Crozes Hermitage, Domaine des Lises, to the portfolio. His first vintage was 2004. This vineyard is located very near the village of Beaumont-Monteux in the most southeasterly part of the Crozes Hermitage appellation in a lieu-dit called les Pichéres. It is a cooler, later harvesting site than that of his father in Les Chêne Verts. The soils here are gravel and alluvial stones and are thus easy draining. This lends itself to fashioning a refined, aromatic style of Syrah with a marked minerality. Planted in the 1980s and 1990s, the vineyard was in a dilapidated state when Maxime first acquired it. He has subsequently converted to working the vines organically, manual harvesting and restricted low yields. Maxime also manages several other vineyards in Cornas, St Joseph and Crozes, selecting tiny parcels of the very best grapes to make his Equis range.
All his wines are crafted very much in the same vein as those of his father’s estate, although perhaps with a bit more size and fruit intensity - possibly a result of the fact that Maxime destems nearly all of his grapes, whereas Alain chooses not to do so. Whatever the differences might be, they both seek to produce wines of finesse and intensity that clearly reflect their origins. Typically, the crop receives a pre-fermentation cooling for 3-5 days. Vinification lasts 3 weeks, with twice-daily cap punching. Barrel ageing lasts for 12-18 months in a mixture of used Burgundy barrels from domaines including Dujac, Arlot and Romanée-Conti - a third are one year-old, the rest a mix of 3 to 5 year-old barrels.
The ‘Equinoxe’ is a modern interpretation of Crozes Hermitage for early drinking, whilst the Crozes Hermitage ‘Domaines des Lises’ and St Joseph tend to gain hugely in flavour after a year or two in bottle. The Cornas is sourced predominantly from a parcel of 20-25 year old vines located on the slopes of the fine lieu-dit, ‘Les Chaillots’, with the balance from old vine plots in ‘La Sabarotte’ and ‘La Côte’. All are hillside sites, where the soils are rich in granite.
Vibrant and pure, packed with layers of black fruits, black pepper, olives, smoke and earth arousing the senses. Medium bodied and richly textured, this wine is very impressive for the price point and should continue to evolve beautifully over the next few years.