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Bordeaux: Blending Into the Future

Change is in the air in Bordeaux. And it will soon be making its way into wineglasses around the world.

At the end of 2020, the INAO, France’s regulatory organization for agricultural products with Protected Designations of Origin (PDO’s) granted historic approval to begin planting six of seven new grape varietals approved for inclusion in Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur wines. Nurseries are gearing up in anticipation of the demand for grafted vines as 4,500 growers prepare for their first plantings.

The six new varieties that have been approved are:

For Reds:

  • Arinarnoa

  • Castets

  • Marselan

  • Touriga Nacional

For White:

  • Alvarinho

  • Liliorila

A seventh varietal, Petit Manseng, was approved as well, but is not yet available for planting.

What does this mean for wine enthusiasts? Interestingly enough, the reason for this momentous change in regulation seems quite counterintuitive: the new varieties are being explored for the purpose of preserving the flavor and structural characteristics that give Bordeaux wines their unique identity.

The culprit in all of this? Climate change. Regardless of one’s beliefs, the reality of warmer vintages and earlier harvests is undeniable. Vintage conditions impact flavors in the glass. It is ironic that in order to preserve the integrity of Bordeaux wines, it may be time to re-cast some long-standing traditions.

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