If Tempranillo is Batman then Graciano is Robin!-Campo Aldea Rioja Reserva.

Now I’m not sure Nicholas Lyndhurst’s star turn as Robin in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ helps my point here but I just couldn’t resist putting the picture in. Have you ever thought, like me, that hero’s are a bit over rated and their side kicks are way more cool? Think Batman and Robin. Batman , blue and grey , easy to carry off. Horrendous green with red pants over the top?? Robin is the truly brave one here. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. Ok, so antisocial violin playing brain box Holmes works out there’s a big horrible dog causing trouble at the Baskervilles but when it comes down to it who remembers to bring his revolver to blow the creature away. I rest my case!

Enjoying a bottle of Campo Aldea Reserva Graciano a few days ago got me thinking that the same seems to apply to wine. 80% of Rioja vineyards are now planted with Tempranillo and often at the expense of varieties like Graciano and Mazuelo. Batman has got too big for his boots I reckon. Tempranillo does make some amazing wines but frankly, on its own, it also makes some characterless fare. Oz Clarke makes this point in his book ‘Red & White’ and I’m very inclined to agree with him.

Yes I know! – Must improve pictures.

For the above reason, and the fact that it is a low yielding variety, 100% Graciano wines are quite hard to find. It is most often used in Rioja blends and is seen as a key component of ‘Gran Reserva’ wines due to its strong aromatics and ability to age well. So if you can’t find it on its own look for Rioja where it is included in the blend.

This wine just oozes cool! Brooding, dark , black cherry colour. Aged for 18 months in a mix of French and American oak makes this wine a great example of the benefit of blending the two types of oak for an integrated and less overt impact. It gives a nose of creamy but understated vanilla , warm spice and black berry fruit. Then on the palate this wine is the essence of smooth with balanced acidity and not a bad finish.

There is something genuinely suave about this wine. Picture yourself in a classy wine bar watching a New Orleans Jazz band, dressed in something smart and black and taking your time over a glass of this beauty. Getting the picture? Total sophistication! It really needs a pair of shades too but as most wine bars are dark already I won’t recommend it!

To top it all off peeps this wine is only £12 from Marks & Spencer Wine which I think is fabulously good value. So whilst I go and find George Clooney on Twitter and try to convince him to promote this grape variety ( George , enough of the coffee already! ) get on down to M&S and try this next time you have Paella, you won’t regret it. 9/10.

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