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 wines produced are characterised by a deep red colour, vibrant aromas and when physiologically ripe an ability to age well. The Graciano varietal thrives in warm, arid growing conditions.
This red grape varietal once played a more central role in the Rioja wine region of northern Spain. The varietal is prone to disease and as mentioned, produces low yields - through when physiological ripe can produce wines of considerable weight, pigmentation, aromatics and quality. The low yields have proved to be its undoing in both Rioja and in France.

 

Though it is still found in small amounts in the south-west area of France. In the Languedoc-Roussillon region, and known as Morrastel or Courouillade, as well as Rioja in Spain, Mendoza in Argentina (as Graciana), and in Australia, where Graciano is used either in blends with Tempranillo or as a varietal wine. Not to be confused with Monastrell which is the Spanish synonym for Mourvedre. In Spain, the varietal is a key component of Gran Reservas in Rioja and Navarra, contributing structure and aging potential. In the Rioja DO, there is approximately 395ha planted with this varietal.
While primarily used as a blending partner, some Rioja bodegas produce varietal Graciano wines. Single varietal wines crafted from Graciano have intense black fruits, red cherries and red plums and age very well. Graciano in grown in Oregon, though In California - Graciano is sometimes known as Xeres.
The French wine grape varietal Morrastel Bouschet is a crossing of Graciano and the red-fleshed grape known as Bouschet Petit. In the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France - it was uprooted in the late 20th century in favour of hardier, more productive varietals, especially something called Morrastel Bouchet which was a crossing between Graciano and Petit Bouschet developed by Henri Bouschet. There is some grown in Australia, where it is known as Morrastel (though some of this may be Mourvedre as well), and some grown in California, where it is known as Xeres. It is thought that Portugal's Tinta Miúda may be Graciano.
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. Typically, it makes up less than 15% of the blend when it is used at all. It can also be found in neighbouring Navarra.
Over time Graciano has been limited to a blending grape varietal. But there are those in the know - Oz Clarke included 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, as recently as 1999, vineyard acreage was 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. Typically, it is an economic decision, as if two vines take up the same amount of space in the vineyard but one produces considerably more fruit and doesn't require as much maintenance, and get fewer bottles of wine, then for many - decision made.
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.