As a winemaker, one of the questions that I’m asked frequently is, “What is your favorite wine?”
As with all simple questions, there’s not a simple answer. At least not for me. But nobody wants to hear, “Well, it depends…” And I completely agree! It’s a cop-out of an answer. The reality of it is that I’d GLADLY spend the next hour telling the inquirer about all the wines that I love, for what reasons, at which occasions, and so on. But I’m also self-aware enough to realize that in the moment, a short answer is probably best, so in my attempts to be truthful—to say that I have many favorites—I wind up sounding wishy-washy.
Once a month or so, I’m going to take the opportunity to tell you about one of my favorite wines, in as much detail as I can, because in a blog format, you can opt out the moment I start boring you. Or come back after you’ve filled up your glass. I’ll be none the wiser, whatever you choose to do.
Without further ado: Graciano.
Variously known as Tinta Miuda in Portugal, Bovale Sardo in Sardinia, and Morrastel in France’s Languedoc, this grape originates in Spain, where it is perhaps best known for its supporting role in some of Rioja’s longest-lived and most perfumed wines. The vine itself is drought resistant, which makes it a good fit for Arizona’s climate. Because we’re so dry during most of the growing season, its susceptibility to rot and mildew is mitigated.
In 2016, we fermented out three different lots of Graciano. I was always in a good mood when it came to punching them down, too. They were all remarkable in their deep purple color, which seemingly developed overnight. And they were all completely different from one another. Our first lot smelled and tasted of black cherries and beef jerky. The second was slightly lighter and intensely floral. When the final lot came in, the entire winery smelled like black pepper, which carried through into the final wine. Not only that, but the last lot finished malolactic fermentation prior to the others, despite having been brought in nearly a month later.
I’m excited to blend all these once they’ve all had plenty of time to mature in barrel. Like certain other varieties I know ahem (Petite Sirah) ahem, our Graciano has been wildly moody swinging from funky to flat to expressive and back again. I have great hopes for this surprising variety.
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