It might be from living in Florida for several years, but I am not shy about my affinity toward Spanish wines. In the Southeast, where European wines are just as common as those from Napa, Spanish wines can provide one of the best values in the store. My love for the Navarra and Rioja regions in particular is by now obvious.
Graciano is a high-acid, well aging, and low yield grape from these major wine producing areas. As such, it is most often blended with tempranillo or garnacha to create Crianzas, Reservas, or other blends. Most of these vines are several decades on, and their fruit is small and potent. So recently, when I stumbled across a 2005 Heretat de Taverners that was 100% Graciano, I had to give it a shot. The catch? This vineyard was in Valencia along the eastern coast of Spain rather than along the foot of the Pyranees, where the varietal is usually found. My $20 gamble paid off, though, as this was by far the most exciting wine that I have tried this year.
Although it could have easily been put in the cellar another 2-3 years, the wine is very drinkable now. It is big and fruity, but it still has a very “old-world,” oaky feel after being aged 14 months in French and American oak. The nose is full of a rich black cherry, spice, and just a hint of vanilla. There is wonderful mix of earth, tobacco, spice, and coriander in the flavor. The wine’s best quality was its finish, a dryness and bitterness—perhaps even sourness—that balances the initial fruit perfectly. The website for the vineyard describes the color of these wines as ruby, but the wine I poured was so dark that it looked black from a distance. I enjoy the new, fruit-forward style of many wines, but wines like this that still remind the drinker of older, dry style are among my favorite. This wine is too macho for your filet mignon; pair it with a rib-eye, duck, or perhaps a tuna steak.