Grapes #95 and #96 in my nearly completed quest are true "oddities" - one fashioned from a grape rarely seen in a single varietal wine, while the other is an obscure old world grape that has somehow found a home in Canada.
I approached the 2004 Vina Ijalba Graciano (Rioja) with some reservation - after all, there must be a reason why Rioja producers have pretty much abandoned (just 0.7% of the vineyard area) this grape, right? A very solid effort - notes of bing cherries, liquorice and truffles dominating on the nose, but some attractive leather, vanilla-y oak, and flinty black pepper as well - very nice to sniff. Crisp cherries and liquorice on the palate, silky tannins and fresh acidity, oaky but not overly so. This is seriously good juice, and could win back some wine drinkers who have abandoned the jammier "nouveau Rioja" wines.
cork. 13% alcohol
Price: C$20.65 (SAQ)
I had similar issues with the Baco Noir, i.e. if Baco is so great, why is this grape so rare? Well it seems to have found a home in Canada. The 2005 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir was quite aromatic and interesting - cherry liqueur and old shoes (leather and rubber, but not in a bad way), green herbs and tarry ashpalt notes - somewhat odd, but interesting. Very crisp, fine acidity, but with little tannin and a short finish. An unusual wine, likely polarizing - I kinda liked it, but I just can't figure out the right pairing...
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Price: C$14.85 (SAQ)