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Introducing Bordeaux's New Crop Part 1: Red Varietals

As with its historic varietals, Bordeaux’s newly approved grapes possess specific characteristics that make them uniquely suited for the natural conditions in the region. The hope is that they will also contribute to preserving the distinctive character of its wines.

Arinarnoa is a Cabernet Sauvignon-Tannat crossing that was developed in France in 1956. About 145 hectares are planted in France’s Languedoc region and in Provence. Arinarnoa is a late-budding, late-ripening varietal that is resistant to botrytis and gray rot. It yields wines that are deeply colored with structured tannins and high natural acidity.

Castets is thought to have been originally discovered in the commune of Saint-Macaire in Bordeaux. The grape is approved for blending in the reds and rosés of AC Palette (Provence) and AC Vins d’Estaing (South-West France). The vine is resistant to downy mildew, an important benefit in the Bordelaise landscape. Castets produces wines that are deeply colored but relatively lower in acid, with aromas of red fruit and high alcohol.

Marselan is another Cabernet Sauvignon offspring with Grenache Noir as its other parent. There are about 3,662 hectares already planted in France, all located within the regions of Languedoc and Rhône. Marselan vines are drought-tolerant and fairly disease-resistant, while the berries are mid- to late-ripening. Wines made from the varietal are aromatic, full-bodied and age-worthy, with deep color and supple tannins.

Touriga Nacional is a grape made famous by Port and the dry reds from Portugal’s Douro Valley. Long relegated to the role of blending varietal, it now figures solely or prominently in some of that country’s best wines. Only 8 hectares are currently planted in France, with some excellent examples originating from Minervois. The varietal ripens slowly and is quite resistant to fungal disease. Touriga makes high-quality, long-lived wines with complex aromas, full body and generous tannins.

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