Bordeaux fights climate change with alternative varietals


The Bordeaux region moved a step closer to approving seven alternative grape varieties which should help protect local producers against the effects of climate change. These seven varieties include well-known grapes from other top regions as well as some more obscure varieties which show huge promise. On the list is Marselan, Touriga Nacional, Albarino, and Petit Manseng which already have established footholds in their native regions as well as internationally.

Other high potential options include Castets, Arinaroa, which is a Tannat-Cabernet Sauvignon cross, and the Chardonnay-Baroque cross known as Liliorila. Extensive studies have shown that these seven have properties which will prove extremely helpful in combatting the effects of climate change such as enhanced resistance to grey rot and mildew and tolerance of hotter conditions.

The local wine union, Le Syndicat Viticole des AOC Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur, released a statement last week confirming that the proposal had passed a critical vote involving Bordeaux winemakers. The plan now needs to be approved by the French appellation authority, the INAO, before it can be put into practice in the vineyards.

If approved, the proposal will mean that winemakers will be able to use these alternative grape varieties in their Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellation wines, opening up the way for an exciting future of innovation as well as adaptation to changing climatic conditions. These new varieties would be permitted to make up a modest 10% of the final blend for AOC Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur wines and just 5% of each producer’s vineyards could be planted with the grapes. The Syndicat expects that if final approval is given, local winemakers could start planting these alternative varieties as early as 2020.

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