Yesterday was a historic day for Bordeaux.
A General Assembly of winemakers from the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur AOCs voted unanimously to allow seven new grapes to be used in Bordeaux blends – part of an ongoing effort to protect the storied wine region from a warming climate.
The proposal faces several more bureaucratic hurdles over the next year or so. If it’s approved, it will be the first rule change since the Bordeaux AOC was created in 1936, and Bordeaux winemakers will be able to start blending up to 10% of the new varieties into their wines.
Meet the New Bordeaux Grapes
The assembly approved four red and three white grapes:
A cross between tannat and cabernet sauvignon, this red grape is grown in southern France, Lebanon, and South America.
A well known grape in Portugal, this red variety is widely used in Port and in Portuguese still wines.
This almost forgotten and nearly-extinct red grape is grown in small numbers in southwest France.
A cross between grenache and cabernet sauvignon, this red variety is grown in southern France and used in some Cotes du Rhone blends.
This aromatic white variety is widely planted in Spain, where it’s famous for varietal wines from Rias Baixas, and in Portugal, where it’s sometimes made into vinho verde.
Most commonly found in southwest France where it’s usually made into a sweet wine, this high acid white grape is also grown in Spain’s Basque region and has become a favorite grape for Virginia winemakers.
A cross between the baroque grape and chardonnay, this little known aromatic white variety was created in France.
New Grapes Won’t Be Labeled
The Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (aka, Bordeaux Wine Council) asserts that the small percentage of new grapes won’t change the style of the region’s wines.
Consumers will have to judge that for themselves, but they may find it hard to figure out which of the new grapes are in the particular wine they’re drinking. Under the proposed rule, the new varieties will not be listed on Bordeaux labels.
The proposal now goes to the Institut National des Appellations Controlées, which supervises all AOCs in France. If it clears that hurdle, it goes to the French government for final approval.
Read more about the proposed rule change.
Feature photo by Wendy Howard