Graciano is a red wine grape varietal with its origins in Spain, and grown primarily in the wine region of Rioja. The vines typically crop at low yields and are normally harvested late in the growing season. The typical wines produced tend to have a vibrant aromas, deep red colour and when physiologically ripe an ability to age. The Graciano grape varietal prefers warm, arid growing conditions to fully ripen.
This red wine varietal once played a central role in the wines of Rioja from northern Spain. The varietal is prone to disease and as typically produces low yields - through when physiological ripe can produce wines of considerable weight, pigmentation, aromatics and fruit quality. The low yields have proved to be its undoing in both Spain and France.

 

Though it is still found in small amounts in the south-west of France. In the Languedoc-Roussillon region, its known as Morrastel or Courouillade. The French wine grape varietal Morrastel Bouschet is a crossing of Graciano and the red-fleshed grape known as Bouschet Petit - developed by Henri Bouschet.
In Rioja - Spain, Mendoza - Argentina and in Australia, where its known as Graciano, it is used either in blends with Tempranillo or as a varietal wine. In Spain, the varietal is a key component of 'Gran Reservas' in Rioja and Navarra, contributing structure and aging potential. In the Rioja DO, as of 2008 there was approximately 1480ha planted with this varietal. There is some grown in California, where it is known as Xeres, and it is thought that Portugal's Tinta Miúda may be Graciano.
While primarily used as a blending partner, some Rioja bodegas produce varietal Graciano wines. Single varietal wines crafted from Graciano have intense black fruits, dark cherries and red plums and age very well.
In Rioja, traditionally Graciano was used to provide colour and aroma to blended red wines - Oz Clarke's gives the comparison of how Petit Verdot is used in Bordeaux, as typically, it makes up less than 15% of the blend when it is used. Over time Graciano has had limited opportunity, but there are those in the know - like Oz Clarke: who has been heard to say that - "Graciano is far and away the most interesting red vine in Rioja".
Even with these positive comments from leading authorities and passionate winemakers, vineyard areas are so low that the Spanish government was offering subsidies to plant Graciano in Rioja. Graciano is susceptible to downy mildew, which means it needs more attention and work in the vineyard.
Fortunately, the fine wine boom of the past twenty years has encouraged more producers to devote more time and resources to cultivating Graciano. Many producers are letting Graciano be the star of some of their wines, producing 100% varietal Graciano wines - so keep an eye out, quality examples are worth sharing.