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Domaine Alain Graillot

In France’s Northern Rhone Valley, there are few names as revered as Graillot. It was in 1985, that the legendary Alain Graillot, came back to his home in Crozes-Hermitage after working with Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac and started his own domaine. With each passing year, his devotion to the art of making hauntingly delicious Syrah from his organically farmed, stone-laden vineyards has been rewarded with an ever growing and highly dedicated following around the world. Alain’s sons, Maxime and Antoine have been in charge since 2008, with Alain working closely alongside them to this day. The domaine’s status as one of the top domaines in all of France is without question.

On a cycling holiday in Morocco, he discovered vineyards along the Atlantic Coast, in the Atlas Mountains, in the Zenata region. In spite of only 20 hectares of vineyards, it has relatively cool climate due to the ocean breezes and an altitude of 500m. The vines are between 10 – 40 years old. The vines are farmed organically with no usage of herbicide or fungicide treatment to the vineyard and all works are done by hand, which reduces damage to the grapes, resulting in an elegant and intensely concentrated Syrah. Alain crafted this red wine as a fruit-forward Moroccan red, yet it is made in an old-world style with moderate extraction, excellent balance and complex aromatics.

Domaine Ouled Thaleb (est. 1923) has been reborn as a modern Moroccan winery over the past two decades. The Moroccan wine industry has evolved and modernized, and much of this with the assistance of French vignerons Domaine Ouled Thaleb’s “Syrocco” is a fascinating collaboration between Alain Graillot, of Crozes Hermitage in the Northern Rhone, France, and Jacques Poulain of Domaine Ouled Thaleb. Graillot was drawn by the potential of this dry, coastal region, which is located on the Atlantic side of the country just south of the city of Rabat. Although the daytime temperature is very hot, the evenings are cool, allowing grapes to ripen and build both acidity and complexity. Moreover, the alluvial/limestone soils are similar to his native Rhone soils, where Syrah vines thrive. All vines are worked manually and the dry climate makes the region suitable for organic farming. The de-stalked grapes are subject to a short soaking, and then 60% of ageing is carried out in French oak barrels.