By Holly Bruns

Hidden away in the vineyards of Rioja, amidst fields of the popular Tempranillo and Garnacha are ancient, as well as new vines of the hardly known red grape Graciano. Used as a blending grape for its intense colour and aroma, Graciano has historically played a supporting role in the wines of Spain. A difficult grape to grow – it is prone to disease and is low-yielding – it has been pulled up and abandoned by growers over the years particularly as international markets had demanded more Cabernet and Merlot. Thanks to a recent project in Rioja to rescue native grape varieties, Graciano is experiencing a very ‘modest’ comeback these days.  

Vinos Sin-Ley Graciano GRA2 is a rare bottle of single varietal Graciano. Made by a cooperative of young, innovative winemakers whose tenet is to “create new wines based on a faithful expression of grapes and terroir”; this is an interesting drink worthy of investigation.

Fermented and aged in stainless steel, there’s none of the typical woodsy, spicy aromas to get in the way of the very fragrant nose. Blueberry and sweet cherry, earth, clove, rose petal, and mineral waft up from the glass. It is not as full on the palate as it is dark and inky, but there’s a heft of acid and tannin that results in a well structured wine. Red fruit, tobacco and a tinge of bitterness finishes off nicely. With roast lamb, spicy sausage or charcuterie in a supporting role, this wine would fare well on the table.

Historical plantings of Graciano can be found in neighbouring France and Portugal, while experimental plantings in the New World are located in the warmer climes of Australia, California, and Argentina.

GRA2 Graciano, Vintages 190819 $16.95

Holly Brun’s love for wine grew out of my love for food, and when curiosity got the better of me, I enrolled in the sommelier program at Algonquin College in Ottawa.  Half way through the program I was definitely hooked. I graduated with the Sommelier Award of Excellence, at the top of my class, and felt bolstered to go on to study at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust where I’ve recently graduated from the Advanced program with distinction. I can now say I am an official wino. Writing a blog just felt like a natural extension of my desire to pursue all things vinous. I like to write, creatively, as a hobby and studied English Lit in university. Writing about wine seems about as much fun as a girl can have! It is now my goal in life to entice others to love and drink wine as much as I do.