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Most Wanted List: A Châteauneuf Impersonator

We were in a tasting meeting with a wine importer plowing through cases of wine samples when a most unusual event occurred. We've been certified wine professionals for so long now that it's rare we come across something we've never seen before. When that happens we get pretty excited!

Out of the sample box emerged two wines which were made in the same exact appellation in the Northern Rhône Valley of France (Crozes-Hermitage) with grapes grown on the same exact plots of land and vinified by the same exact winemaker.

That's where the similarities end and the fun explodes.

There are few names which are quite as revered in the Northern Rhône Valley as Alain Graillot in Crozes-Hermitage. He makes highly coveted wines from Syrah on organically farmed vineyards in a charming, Old School style (we're talking about hand harvesting, organic farming, whole cluster fermentation and wines aged in older oak barrels from Burgundy).

Well, in fact, he used to make the wine until he passed the torch onto his son Maxime in 2008. When his legacy was passed on to Maxime, Alain asked his son to uphold one promise. Maxime was granted the freedom to do whatever he wanted in the vineyard but he had to keep producing one wine in the traditional style Papa had transformed into a legend.

Now back to that rocking sample box. We were presented with two wines -- one in very modern packaging which we've never seen come out of the Northern Rhône and one in very traditional Old School packaging you would expect from this stalwart region. We were staring at night and day, modern versus traditional, lush and hedonistic versus earthy and rustic.

Exact same plots of land. Exact same winemaker.
Completely different wines!

Maxime Graillot Domaine Des Lises Crozes-Hermitage 2018 (Northern Rhône, France)

Maxime Graillot Domaine Des Lises Crozes-Hermitage 2018

For those of you who are Syrah phobic (come on now, we know who you are), we implore you to give this wine a chance. We don't tend to drink Syrah unless it's from the Northern Rhône and we'll be the first to admit we hate the packaging. The crazy modern label just doesn't happen in this wine region, but we were willing to overlook that because of what was in the bottle.



Effortless Grace and Charm

If you love Châteauneuf-du-Pape (who doesn't?), we think you'll flip over this wine. It's luscious, hedonistic, silky and extremely well crafted. This stunning wine is made from 100% Syrah grown on 40+ year old vines which are farmed organically.

Let's head over to the press now. They seem to like it as much as us.

"Opaque ruby. Smoke- and spice-accented dark berries and a hint of licorice on the lively nose. Subtly sweet blackberry and cherry flavors show very good clarity and energy and pick up a suave floral quality with aeration. Displays fine definition and strong, spicy lift on the persistent, gently tannic finish, which leaves lingering cherry and exotic spice notes behind. 30 whole clusters." (Josh Raynolds, Vinous)

Vinous: 92 points

"Lush and inviting, with crushed plum and boysenberry purée flavors gliding atop a polished structure. Pretty finish lets the fruit take the lead, while light anise and apple wood notes chime in the background. Drink now through 2026. 2,400 cases made, 500 cases imported." (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator: 91 points

"The 2018 Crozes Hermitage features scents of almond paste against a backdrop of bold cherry flavors. It's full-bodied and hugely ripe, almost sweet-tasting and chocolaty on the palate. It looks to be an early-maturing vintage." (Wine Advocate)

Wine Advocate: 90 points

$38.99/bottle or $374.30/12 pack case ($31.19/bottle) or just $31.19/bottle in a mixed case of wine.


Press reply to order your wine or call the store, 508 255 3660.

During the covid crisis you may enter the store if you're wearing a mask, or you can call in advance for curbside pick up until 5 pm, or you can place an order for "no contact" free delivery if it's over $50 and you live in Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans, Brewster or Harwich.

Deliveries are made Monday through Friday afternoons only.

Please be advised we have waived our delivery fees during the covid crisis for the above mentioned towns.

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Town Center Wine & Spirits
Cape Cod's Most Trusted Wine Merchant 


4550 State Highway
North Eastham, MA 02651
(Next to the Royal Thai Restaurant in the Town Center Plaza)
Tel: 508 255 3660
Fax: 508 255 6736

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Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


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Closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas.