WINE OF THE MONTH

Finca Manzanos
Graciano

Rioja, Spain  $12

We have arrived in that limbo stage of Colorado weather- sharp temperature swings, the first fallen leaves, and false notions of autumn any moment now. Because of the mercurial nature of our seasons, you can never quite go by the calendar. Cooler days are ahead, just as there are surely more 90-degree sizzlers. But that’s okay. We are used to the idiosyncrasies of our dear state and what that means for this time of year. That said, the fall WOTM is always a toughie. We must find a wine that contains multitudes. Seriously. Criteria such as not too heavy, yet not too light. Off the beaten path, but not too weird or polarizing. Something that is just at home on your table on a hot September evening, as it will be next to stuffing at Thanksgiving gatherings. And super affordable, of course. As always, we have worked tirelessly to find the next fall offering.

Graciano- ever heard of it?

Starting from humble beginnings over a hundred years ago, the Fernández de Manzanos family are fourth-generation winemakers. Located in Rioja and Navarra, the current generation has maximized the brand's abilities, and they are quickly becoming a rising producer in the region. The award-winning Finca Manzanos line specializes in the Rioja DOC and is one of the biggest cultivars of finicky Graciano.

Native to the area (and rarely grown outside of Northern Spain), Graciano is a varietal that excels in the winery but is a problem child in the vineyard. Black-skinned and highly aromatic, this varietal is low yield, late-harvested (late October), and prone to disease. For these reasons, it is generally grown in low quantities and used in a supporting role blended with Tempranillo in Rioja. It adds color, depth, rounded fruit, and structure- helping Gran Reservas age for years to come. On its own, Graciano is somewhat rare and worth trying whenever you come across it.
 
Estate-grown fruit is aged in French oak for six months, resulting in a deep garnet hue and savory red and black fruits on the nose. Medium-plus in body, with nice mouthfeel due to the prominent limestone minerality. Well-integrated tannins lend a suppleness, while black currants, boysenberries, and subtle garrigue round out the palate. A pop of acidity on the finish adds to an overall freshness.

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Recipes

This wine strikes the perfect balance of weight and acidity to serve with or without food. For pairings, think fall fare- such as wild rice soup with root veggies, pasta with mushroom duxelles, chorizo al vino, and grilled lamb chops with fresh herbs.

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