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Bordeaux plans to test new grapes

The Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur Union is seeking permission from the INAO (National Institute of Appellations) to test grape varieties which are all currently illegal in the production of Bordeaux wines.

If the trials get the go ahead the varieties which include Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc will be planted in up to 8 different locations and trialled over eight years - three years prior to the first harvest and five years of harvesting - before they would be approved under the appellation. The grapes can be used in a wine blend (across any appellation) that is intended for sale – a maximum of 30% in the final blend can be used.

The aim is to test which grapes work best on which terroir in the region with the intention of introducing them only if they offer real quality. The results may also help the region in its planning for climate change.

The red grapes for trial will be Marselan, Syrah, Zinfandel and Arinarnoa. In white, Liliorila, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng Blanc and Chenin Blanc will be tested.

Bordeaux is currently allowed to grow Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Carmenere and Malbec for red wines. Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle are the major white varieties, with Ugni Blanc, Odenc, Colombard, Mauzac and Merlot Blanc as accessory grapes.

The INAO will decide at the end of February whether to permit tests of the varieties.