Graciano is a black grape from Spain that is slowly increasing in its Rioja and Navarra heartlands.
Graciano requires clay-limestone soils and a warm, arid climate. It is a highly aromatic grape that comes with a nice spiciness. This, together with good acidity and tannin levels makes it popular in blends.
It is however also a low yielding variety, that fairly easily will take on various diseases, two factors which historically has not been in its favour.
A dry, varietal Graciano wine can be expected to display notes of cherry, black current, together with some spiciness.
When used in a Rioja blend, Graciano is thought to bring elegance, dark colour and a peppery fruitiness. There are also dry varietal Graciano wines to be found in several countries.
Apart from the cherry, black current, and spiciness, it will also be a wine that can wait in your cellar for at least five years. With age, you can expect to find also forest raspberries, tobacco, chocolate, and vanilla.
A nice food pairing will be red meat, preferably beef, but also veal or perhaps lamb will do.
The wine is best served at 15-18°C/59-64°F. If the wine is young, e.g. it will display more fruitiness, you can serve it at one or two degrees’ lower temperature.
Where is it grown?
In a worldwide comparison, Graciano is a small grape. It is decreasing in Italy and Portugal, but is on the other hand increasing in Spain.
In Spain, Graciano is planted on 2.281 ha/5,636 ac. This corresponds to an increase of over four hundred percent in ten years, placing it as the thirty-sixth most planted grape in 2010. The main plantings are found in Rioja and Navarra.
In Italy, there’s been a decrease of almost fifty percent in ten years and in 2010 the planted area was 479 ha/1,159 ac. The region with most plantings is Sardinia, with a focus on the sub-region of Sassari.
In the central western regions Ribatejo e Oeste you will find most of Portugal’s 332 ha/820 ac plantings. This corresponds to a decrease of almost thirty-five percent in 10 years.
Very small plantings can also be found in Mendoza in Argentina, and in Provence in France. There are webpages from Australian wineries in for example Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, and Margaret River (to mention just a few) referring to Graciano. Plantings in Australia were however not reported in the 2010 worldwide research of varieties.
Once of vital importance in the Rioja region, e.g. before the Phylloxera disease, it is also quite likely that Graciano has originated there. It is likely to be an old variety, of several hundred years of age.