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Bordeaux Receives National Approval to Introduce Six New Red and White Grape Varieties in 2021

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Bordeaux is a Leader in Addressing Climate Change with Innovative Viticultural Strategies such as New Varietal Plantings


BORDEAUX, FRANCE January 26, 2021 – The Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) has formally approved the use of four new red and two new white grape varieties in the Bordeaux region. The announcement by INAO, a division of France’s Ministry of Agriculture, represents the culmination of over a decade of research by wine scientists and growers of Bordeaux to address the impact of climate change through highly innovative, eco-friendly measures. The approved varieties are well-adapted to alleviate hydric stress associated with temperature increases and shorter growing cycles and include four reds – Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan and Touriga Nacional – and two whites – Alvarinho and Liliorila. The first plantings of the new varieties are planned for 2021.

Bordeaux winegrowers now have an expanded catalogue of varieties with different growth cycles and ripening periods. In addition to the six new varieties, AOC specifications also allow 6 benchmark red varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Carménère, Petit Verdot – and up to 8 white varieties: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Muscadelle, Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Merlot Blanc and Mauzac.

Leaders in quality winemaking and innovation, Bordeaux’s scientific experts have laid the groundwork for a sustainable future based on research, experimentation and collaboration. Over 52 varieties were subjected to intense scrutiny over the past decade, with only six making the final cut. Under the revised national guidelines, the six additional Bordeaux grape varietals were named “new varieties of interest for adapting to climate change.” They are limited to 5% of the planted vineyard area; cannot account for more than 10% of the final blend of any given color; and as such, per legal regulations for labelling, will not appear on Bordeaux labels.

The winemakers of Bordeaux AOC & Bordeaux Supérieur first announced their intent to authorize new varieties in June 2019 to lessen the effects of climate change. Now that it’s official, winegrowers can diversify their plantings and further develop the timeless art of blending Bordeaux wines. Ancestral varieties that were previously harder to handle are also making a comeback in the vineyards, highlighting Bordeaux’s willingness to take decisive action. For example, Petit Verdot, a late-ripening variety known for its appealing violet and licorice notes, has benefitted from global warming: plantings of Petit Verdot are up +191% as of 2018.

In addition to plant materials, Bordeaux has introduced other enological and agricultural practices to adapt to climate change. These include adapting best practices to the needs of each vintage, such as delayed pruning; increasing vine trunk height to reduce leaf area; limiting leaf-thinning to protect grapes from sun; adapting plot sites to minimize hydric stress; night harvesting; and reducing plant density. Bordeaux winegrowers are planning well ahead in the quest to continue offering consumers aromatic, balanced wines of quality.

ABOUT Bordeaux Wine Council (C.I.V.B.)

Bordeaux Wine Council (C.I.V.B.) was created by the French Law dated August 18, 1948. It unites representatives from the three families in the Bordeaux wine industry: winegrowers, merchants and traders.

The CIVB’s 4 missions:

  • Marketing mission: position Bordeaux wines as the brand of reference, create a strong bond between consumers and the Bordeaux brand, recruit new, younger consumers and ensure their loyalty.
  • Technical mission: build knowledge, protect the quality of Bordeaux wines and anticipate new requirements related to environmental and food safety regulations.
  • Economic mission: provide intelligence on production, the market, the environment and sale of Bordeaux wines around the world.
  • The industry’s general interests: protect the terroirs, fight counterfeiting, develop wine tourism.
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