Most wine drinkers who are fascinated with the exploration of grape varietals will eventually get around to the beloved Graciano grape. Simply put, this Spanish grape is Tempranillo’s darker, bolder cousin! So if you like ‘em tall, dark and deep, you can be thankful that many American wineries feel the same way about this puppy.
Maybe it’s the soil conditions or wine producing techniques here in that states that have mellowed out this really dry and often astringent varietal, but stateside renditions are different than their Spanish counterparts. Many of the California ones now can be considered as food-versatile and most enjoyable to drink.
One of our own AZ vintners, Flying Leap Vineyards shares this love for the American rendition and started producing it from day one. Actually, their 2011 vintage was sourced from Bokich Vineyards in Lodi, California where they specialize in Spanish varietals to perfection. Flying Leap has taken their fruit and proved the process! Verified, they certainly know how to create a great batch of wine.
However, for future vintages Flying Leap intends to use all their own Arizona fruit from a 4-acre parcel that has been building up to the task more with every passing day of sunshine! We’ll see when those bottles come out for upcoming vintages. But if other attempts at Spanish varietals from various AZ wineries are any indication, this could get interesting.
As for the 2011 Graciano, you can find it on Flying Leap’s website for under $30. With about 85 cases remaining as of now, they have a good stock remaining, but not endless. This is a good chance to explore this grape and be sure to compare it side-by-side with a good Tempranillo. There is a difference that is notable.
Pairing is a cinch. Try it with Italian food featuring red or heavy white sauces and plenty of meat. And there is always grilled bratwurst; for some reason it just works. Or have it with meat loaf and tomato sauce. It’s just a fun wine for anyone who wants to change it up a little.
As for the bouquet, linger over it. There’s a lot of spice character with ripe cherries and earthiness. Things not often noted in American wines. Graciano’s texture and body are full with notable, but not too prominent, acidity. Savor and jot it all down, it may be awhile before you taste one again that matches it.