Everything about Elena Corzana's Graciano is a work of art, from the meticulous care of the vineyards, to the label which depicts a painting of Elena made by her friend Jose Uriszar, a well known Riojan artist.
With only 600 bottles produced, this is truly a hand-made artisanal wine and the results speak for themselves. The Graciano grapes, native to La Rioja, come from Elena's friend's vineyard, organically grown near Labastida in the Sonsierra Occidental, a northern subregion of Rioja.
After manually harvesting and de-stemming, the grapes undergo natural fermentation with their indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for 12 months in two used oak barrels.
The resulting wine is full of life, the qualities of the Graciano grapes and the terroir shine through. Floral, spicy, elegant, and vibrant with aromas of mulberry, violets and chocolate. The oak is exceptionally balanced and integrated, not overpowering but complementing the wine. The texture is pleasant and clean, with a long dry finish.
Elena was born in Navarrete, La Rioja, her family has been involved in wine for generations. She is an agricultural engineer, oenologist, sommelier, viticulturist, and now produces her own wines. After her studies, Elena worked in renowned wineries in Rioja, Montpellier France, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and Chile before finally returning home to focus on making wines from her family’s vineyards. Apart from wine, Elena also produces small batch artisanal olive oil from her family's olive grove.
Elena is a partner to Albae Wine Club and represents us in Rioja, her expert opinion and friendship is invaluable.
Annual Production: 600 (The club has access to 60 annually)
Type: Tinto (red)
Finish: long, dry, and clean
Grape Variety: 100% Graciano
Viticulture / Farming: Sustainable & Organic - Terroir Driven
Ageing: 12 months in used French Oak
Winemakers: Elena Corzana
Bodega: Elena Corzana
Region: La Rioja, Subregion Sonsierra Occidental, municipality of Labastida
Designation of Origin: DOCa Rioja
Micro-Climate: Mediterranean/Continental – cool & humid winters (2ºC) and hot dry summers (29ºC)
Elevation: Average 500-560 meters above sea level
Age of Vines: 50+ years
- Drink now or keep for up to 8 years
- Decant if possible or open 30 minutes before serving
- Pairs well with red meats, Manchego cheese, Jamon Iberico, stews, paella and other rice dishes, chocolate desserts
- Ideally served just below room temperature
Elena's Graciano vineyards are located near Labastida, Sonsierra occidental, one of the northernmost subregions of La Rioja. The soils are mainly composed of limestone. The summers are warm, dry, and mostly clear and the winters are very cold, windy, and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 1 °C to 28 °C and is rarely below -3 °C or above 35 °C.
The Rioja DOCa (DOCa = Denominación de Origen Calificada) is one of the oldest in Spain and the region has a history of producing wine dating back to the Phoenicians and Celtiberians in the 9th century CE.
The popular wine region is located in the northern part of Spain, about 240 kilometres north of the capital, Madrid, and 95 kilometres south of Bilbao.
The Rioja viticultural area is very diverse. It stretches about 120 Kilometres long by 40 Kilometres wide, and is crossed from Northwest to Southeast by one of the longest rivers in Spain, the Ebro river, with seven of its tributaries and their corresponding valleys, and six mountain ranges.
Some call it the land of a thousand wines, but it is even more diverse than that. You might have read that the region is divided into three main areas; Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Oriental (formerly Rioja Baja).
This division is obsolete and it is being reviewed because it doesn’t provide detailed information about the great variety of Terroirs and viticultural traditions of La Rioja. The new Terroir-oriented partition will be formed by six to eight subregions.
In 2017 the Consejo Regulador of the Rioja DOCa introduced a new wine classification system, moving away from the similarly obsolete classification of oak-ageing as an indication of quality (remember: Genérico, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva).
Now on the wine labels apart from the indication of the traditional zones (Rioja Alta, Alavesa, or Oriental), and the municipality (Note: there are 145 Municipios in the viticultural region of La Rioja), you may now find the indication of Viñedo Singular (a similar concept to "Grand Cru” vineyards in La Bourgogne).
As with any of Elena's wines, the Graciano is completely artisanal and hand made. The grapes are harvested by Elena and her friends from the vineyards in La Bastida, Sonsierra Occidental, one of the northernmost subregions of La Rioja. The grapes are de-stemmed by hand, and fermentation occurs naturally in bins with the grape's indigenous yeasts. The wine is subsequently aged in two used oak barrels for 12 months.
Born and raised in Navarrete, La Rioja, Elena’s family has been involved in viticulture and winemaking for generations. One of Elena’s earliest memories is of visiting the family vineyard with her grandfather, riding on the tractor, from that moment she knew what she loved.
Elena is a veritable multifaceted talent, she’s an agricultural engineer, oenologist, sommelier, viticulturist, and now produces her own wines. After her studies, Elena worked in renowned wineries in Rioja, Montpellier France, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and Chile before finally returning home to focus on making wines from her family’s vineyards. Apart from wine, Elena also produces small batch artisanal olive oil from her family's olive grove.
She works with native grape varieties of Rioja, Graciano, and a very rare variety called Maturana Tinta that had all but disappeared, but was rediscovered in Rioja in 1991. The grape’s genetic profile coincides with that of the almost extinct French variety, Castets, a cousin of Cabernet Franc.
Initially there were 35 vines of Maturana found in Navarrete, today there are roughly 229 hectares across Rioja, but Elena owns the first vineyard (passed down from her mother) planted with this variety. "There are a total of 2,000 vines in two plots that I completed with more plants in 2014 in the La Lámpara area.”
Elena’s obsession is to restore the authenticity of Navarrete’s lost terroir by planting more native Maturana vines, but also by restoring the traditional hands-on approach to winemaking. Everything is done by hand, her yields are small, her vineyards are organic, and she produces some 2000 bottles per season.
Navarrete is a crossroads, one of the most notable stops on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and also the Ignatian route, and in its day it was also an important wine town, home to centuries-old wineries.
"I would like to collaborate in returning my town to the wine map, from which, for various circumstances, it has been diluted and I think that the Maturana Tinta from Navarrete is a good opportunity, since we have good soils, a cool microclimate and, perhaps what we lack is looking more towards the origin and identity of our vineyards.”
Elena’s hometown of Navarrete is also the cradle of the famous red clay which gives life to the area’s alfarería (pottery). Elena’s paternal grandfather was a potter. The local clay is used to handcraft tinajas (amphoras) in which the wine is fermented and aged. The clay from Navarrete is very mineral and pure, and has a lower porosity than those from La Mancha; producing the wine in tinajas helps to maintain the characteristic qualities of the grapes and gives the wine a well-rounded mouth feel.
"The clay gives the wine a more complex and elegant character, and also helps to preserve the freshness and acidity of the grape, allowing it to express itself in a more natural way."
That is precisely what she wants to achieve, to reflect the essence of a terroir that she has come to know with the passing of the years and that she has decided to recover to its former glory.
93 Points - Luis Gutiérrez Santo Domingo (Wine Advocate, Robert Parker)
The 2020 Graciano was produced with grapes from a plot in Labastida that was harvested the last day of October and with 10% of grapes from La Liende in San Vicente. It's a fresh red with elegant tannins and 14% alcohol. The hand-destemmed grapes fermented in a plastic bin with indigenous yeasts, and the wine matured in two used ok barrels for 12 months. It's varietal, floral and spicy, with integrated oak and a vibrant palate that is neatly textured and finishes long, dry and clean. Cool. 600 bottles were filled in November 2021.