Graciano is an endemic variety to the region that almost became extinct until it was revitalized over the last 10 years. It is an extremely low yielding grape and is quite tricky to grow. It is characterized by high acidity and high levels of colour/tannins. However, it can produce some of the most wonderful wines found in Spain. This excellent example comes from the amazing 2005 vintage. Grapes come from a single 26 year-old vineyard, managed to extremely low yields. It was matured for 14 months in new French “Allier” oak, before extended ageing in bottle. This rich, dark wine is highly perfumed with notes of violets, dried rosemary, plums and cinnamon spice. The palate is full bodied with fine-grained tannins and dusty oak complexity. This wine is drinking beautifully now but should age a further 5-10 years. 95 points.
About the Winery
Viñedos y Bodegas del la Marquesa “Valserrano”
Valserrano is located in the town of Villabuena in the Rioja Alavesa region of Spain. The winery owns 65 Ha of vines with the average age of the vines above 25 years old. The focus of the winery is on red Rioja wines with Tempranillo and Graciano the two standout varieties. They also produce an outstanding barrel fermented Viura from the old vineyards surrounding the winery. Some parts of the winery are over 150 years old with underground shafts dug 10 metres into the rock to help regulate temperature. While tradition plays a big part in the story of this family winery, technology is also widely visible. The winery has modern temperature control, a vast oak barrel program and high end bottling machines. The bodega is owned by Juan Pablo de Simón and his sons Pablo and Jaime. Jaime heads up the winemaking team and has the difficult task of balancing technology with the rich traditions of this winemaking dynasty. He appears to be succeeding.
Rioja is located in the north west of Spain and is it’s most important wine producing region. The region is divided into three zones running along the Ebro river, “Rioja Baja”(mainly red Garnacha based wines) and “Rioja Alta/Alavesa” (arguably the finest zone for the red Tempranillo grape)-. Rioja Alta/Alavesa is located in the Basque domininant North West of the country around the winemaking town of Haro. The epicenter of the Rioja region is the city of Logroño, and winemaking has flourished in the area since the Christian conquest of the Moors in the 15h century. The best vineyards lie on the slopes abutting the Sierra de Cantabria (mountains) at altitudes ranging from 300-800m. Although 7 varieties of grapes are grown in Rioja, it is the black grape Tempranillo that has thrived on these clay and limestone soils. Although there has been renewed interest in the Graciano (endemic black grape), Viura (White-Macabeo) and Verdejo (White-Verdehlo) also grown here.
The style of Red Rioja has broad international appeal. The wines are usually aged in oak barriques (mainly American oak) and have wonderful structure with appealing vanillan, slighty savoury complexity. No wonder people call this region the “most progressive winemaking region in Europe”.
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