Claire as a Bell

An odd blend, but we’re going to see more and more Graciano working its way into bottles and blends in CA–and obviously elsewhere–in the future. I like the way it mellows, lightens, and somewhat sweetens the classical harsh blackness of Mourvedre in this particular example. Medium ruddy ruby in the glass, thinning to distinct brick at the edge. Hot clay and toasty ripeness pours out of the bowl: warm, sullen fruit a mash of briar, black pepper and figgy chocolate. Bright notes of firm cherry and rhubarb tie together distinct fruit with earthy vegetal.

Possibly my first dominantly-Mourve wine from Arizona, I love seeing them play with different varieties to find the climatic niche. It’s like the frontier, man! And how refreshing to be making wine in a region not pigeon-holed for mono-culture. This is why I feel sorry for Napa Valley, most of Oregon, and even Santa Barbara and Paso Robles, where one or two grapes have garnered ALL the marketing momentum, making anything else produced “odd”. Just last week I was talking to a fairly serious local *wine person* and mentioned a Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet. “They make Cab in Santa Barbara????!?” was his shocking–and terribly naive–response. But back to this Arizona.

Dirty, thick and grainy in the mouth, the brilliant rusticity of Mourvedre gaining the spotlight, peppery sparkle piercing the edges of robust black fruit. The core is a pillar of dark berry, bread pudding dotted with soaked raisins, coffee-cake with caramelized bottom, week-old lily bouquet and Peppermint Pattie. Bristling with fiery spirit, the fully-integrated tannin a green bomb ticking from entry-on. There’s an invigorating high-note to all the swollen aspects of this wine, though, making it far fruitier than casual observation of the black heart beating angrily. Sharp acid rims the thick cherry, something the gloriously bitter forever-finish works hard to quell. It succeeds in the short-term, but dampening the concentration of this bottle is futile. VERY nicely done.

2017 CALLAGHAN VINEYARDS ‘Claire’s’ MV/Graciano/PV 65/25/10 Sonoita Cochise Co. Arizona 14.2

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