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The Graciano Grape


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About Graciano

(Synonyms: Bovale, Bovale Sardo, Bovaleddu, Cagliunari, Cagniulari, Cagnulari, Calareddhu, Calda Reio, Courouillade, Graciana, Minustellu, Monastrell Menudo, Monastrell Verdadero, Morastell, Morrastel, Moristell, Muristellu, Tinta Miúda, Tintilla de Rota, Xeres)

Background

Map showing Rioja

Graciano is a red-wine grape originating in the Rioja region of Spain. Spanish wines, like most Old World wines, are typically blends named for the region from which they spring. In Rioja wines, Graciano was usually a small percentage of the blend (though important, contributing structure and aging potential). Of late, its use had been fading, owing to the vines’ being quite low yielding.

(As the FringeWine blog puts it, “One might be inclined to think that Graciano has been relegated to blending grape status because it is an inferior grape. In fact, Oz Clarke says that it is ‘far and away the most interesting red vine in Rioja’, and Jancis Robinson writes ‘it is to the Riojanos’ shame that so little Graciano survives in their vineyards today.” If the wine is so good, then why, as recently as 1999, was vineyard acreage so low that the Spanish government was giving subsidies for planting Graciano in Rioja vineyards? The answer is that Graciano is notoriously low-yielding and susceptible to downy mildew, which means it needs more attention in the vineyards. It’s an economic decision that it’s hard to find fault with on a large scale.")

Recently, though, with wider recognition of the grape’s ability to produce powerfully aromatic wines of deep color and intense, distinctive flavor that age very well (Oz Clarke’s remarks on that notwithstanding), there has been an upsurge of interest, and bottlings that are dominantly Graciano or, not uncommonly, monovarietal have been appearing. Indeed, it is nowadays generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class red-wine grapes.

The vines thrive in warm, arid climates; there is now also some interest in the grape in the Lodi area of California, which seems well suited to it. It is also grown in Australia.

In Rioja, whence most Graciano yet, red wines are classified into one of four categories. In rising order of supposed quality, those are: Rioja, young wines; Crianza, wines aged at least two years, with at least one of those on oak; Rioja Reserva, aged at least three years, with at least one of those on oak; and Rioja Gran Reserva, aged at least two years on oak and at least three more in bottle. If that sounds like a lot, some bodegas (wineries) in times past would age their wines for 15 or even 20 years before releasing them. (Wikipedia cites “the Marqués de Murrieta which released its 1942 vintage gran reserva in 1983 after 41 years of aging.”)

Factoid: some say the grape’s name derives from the word gracia, meaning “joy” or “grace” (hence gracias); others say that because it is so difficult to grow well, growers offered cuttings habitually replied “No, gracias!”

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Some Descriptions of Graciano Wines

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Some Gracianos to Try

(About this list.)

Vara y Pulgar Tintilla ”Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz”

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Bodegas Ondarre Graciano
(This is their basic Graciano, not any of the Reservas or the Crianza.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Bhilar “Lágrimas de Graciano”

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Viña Zorzal Graciano

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Rio Madre Graciano

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

We found no Graciano better enough than those listed to justify any sort of “splurge” price.

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