Much like Petit Verdot in Bordeaux, Graciano is usually a bit part player in the Rioja blends, providing structural elements (acidity, colour and tannin) to balance the dominant varietals, and provide ageing potential. Again, like Petit Verdot, it's a challenging grape to make into a single varietal, but more Spanish winemakers, and some from as far afield as California and Australia, are starting to play with the balance of red and black fruit flavours and spicy savoury notes this grape can offer, to produce seriously juicy wines.
Viña Zorzal is from Spain's Navarra region, which lies to the north-east of Rioja in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It's a region more well known for producing Rosé wines. It was a great midweek treat from The Wine Society at just £6.95 a bottle. For non members, you can pick up the 2013 vintage at The Sampler for £10.35 or from Robersons at £10. And pick up a bottle, you definitely should. I will be buying it again, and again.
Why you should be drinking this wine now
Richly fruity with a strong perfume, and a hint of savoury spicing coming from 4 months in oak it's an easy crowd pleaser.
I showed this at a Purple Teeth tasting in August and it was really popular, even against far more expensive wines. Medium bodied with very juicy acidity and well integrated tannin, it's easy to see why this quaffable wine would be a winner. It's not clarified or filtered so decanting is recommended, but I had only an almost imperceptible sediment in the last glass (poured on day 2) so there's nothing to stop you opening and pouring straight from the bottle.
Rich enough to drink with a variety of foods, it's also very pleasant for drinking on it's own. I can see this working well as a party wine over the coming months. It worked surprisingly well paired with Paella at Chateau Purple Teeth, and also matched up to Iberian ham and cheese. At 13.5% it's a little lighter in alcohol than some of the heftier new world wines, but is just as easy-drinking. Try it, or other Graciano wines, from Rioja or elsewhere and let me know what you think, here, or on my Facebook page.
And if you'd like me to introduce you to fun, drinkable and interesting wines, do get in touch to arrange your very own Purple Teeth Wine Tasting party.