Graciano grapes are small and thick-skinned, with a deep blue-black colour, primarily grown in Spain. Although its exact origins are uncertain, the variety is believed to have originated in Rioja, where it is mainly produced.
As a relatively tricky variety to grow, Graciano has a long growing season and is susceptible to various diseases. It prefers hot and dry climates but requires an adequate water supply. The grape is known for its low yields, which can make it more challenging and expensive to cultivate.
Graciano is known for contributing intense aromas and flavours to wines that often exhibit dark fruit flavours like blackberry, cherry, and plum, along with spice, violets, and earthiness notes. It's also often used as a blending grape to enhance wines' complexity and aromatic profile.
The grapes have high acidity and tannins, which give the resulting wines structure and ageing potential. In Rioja, these are often blended with varieties like Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache), adding acidity, colour, and aromatic complexity to the wines.
Sadly, Graciano has faced a decline in plantings over the years due to its challenging cultivation requirements and low yields. However, having recognised its potential and unique qualities, some winemakers have resorted to producing single-varietal wines made from the grape, which offer a different experience to the traditional Rioja blends.