Graciano

Graciano is a black skinned wine grape from northern Spain, grown principally in Navarra and Rioja. Although rarely seen outside Spain, the variety is found in small quantities in Australia and California. Under the name Morrastel, it is also grown in small quantities in the Languedoc. The classic Graciano wine is moderately tannic, deeply coloured and intensely perfumed, with aromas of mulberry, violets and chocolate. In Rioja, where most red wines are aged in oak, these notes are complemented by vanilla and sweet spices – the trademarks of barrel-aged red wine.

Graciano's intense aroma makes the variety very popular with winemakers, who use it mostly in the classic Rioja Blend with Tempranillo and Garnacha (although a few varietal examples exist). The variety's presence is felt in blends even when used in small volumes. In this regard it has much in common with Petit Verdot, another colour-rich, flavour-packed, red wine variety prized for its role in blends and only rarely vinified alone.

Unfortunately, Graciano vines are less successful in the vineyard than in the winery. Not only are they particularly susceptible to mildew, they are also very low-yielding, making the variety unpopular among vine growers – particularly those paid by the kilogram. In the 20th century many Rioja wineries uprooted their Graciano vines, in favour of more fashionable grapes such as Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. Happily, the variety is now steadily returning to importance.

Although various conflicting stories exist, Graciano is thought to be the same variety as Sardinia's Cagnulari.
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