Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Contrary to the pronouncements of some politicians that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by (insert here favorite foe) the Bordelaise take global warming very seriously and, last month, the Bordeaux AOC and Bordeaux Supérieur wine producers’ syndicate decided, for the first time, to add seven new grape varieties to the varieties approved to be used in Bordeaux wine blends. The new varieties require a warmer climate to properly ripen compared to the ones that had been traditionally used in the region. In current vintages that use a good amount of Merlot, because of the higher sugar in the must, alcohol in the final blend is starting to creep up beyond the 15.5% ABV traditionally allowed. Growers will be allowed to plant the new varieties on up to 5% of their vineyard area and to add up to 10% of the new wine to the final Bordeaux blends.
It's a huge move for one of the most conservative areas of the wine world. But it also is certain recognition of a fast changing planet.
The new allowed varieties are 4 reds and 3 white grapes. Of those, 2 are very well known and well regarded; a red, Touriga Nacional, and a white, Albariño (Alvarinho).
Touriga Nacional is Portugal’s finest red grape, widely grown in the hot Douro Valley and used in both premium table wines and ports. It makes wines of great complexity and elegance even in hot, dry conditions. Alvarinho is also widely grown and revered in north-west Spain and Portugal. Bordeaux's white wines are not as expensive or important to the market as the reds, but they will certainly improve with the use of Alvarinho, which makes terrific wines in the coastal regions of both Portugal and Spain.
The rest of the new allowed varieties are:
Arinarnoa – A cross between Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon grown mainly in Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France. Some upcoming wine blends from this varietal are also produced in Uruguay and Central South America.
Castets – It produces deeply-colored wines. It was very popular in the late nineteenth century France but had been uprooted and almost disappeared from French viticultural regions, until now.
Marselan – A cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache; it is grown mainly in the Languedoc and southern Rhône as well as some Southern Greek Islands and Lebanon.
Petit Manseng – Grown mainly in south-west France as a principal variety in the Jurançon and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh appellations.
Liliorila – A cross between Baroque (a little known French white varietal) and Chardonnay. It was bred in 1956 and there were only 4 hectares planted with this grape in France by 2008.
These new regulations are just an approval of experiments that have already taken place at even the most expensive vineyards of Bordeaux.
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