All Change For Bordeaux

Fellow Wine Lovers,

In a break from tradition, we’d like to talk to you about wine today. In France this week the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) formally approved the use of six new varieties in Bordeaux.

‘Oh, how exciting!’ I hear you cry.

Well, I have to say we’re somewhere between excited, miffed, confused, disappointed and outraged. Before I explain our many positions on the subject, I should probably tell you what’s going on: farmers who produce Bordeaux AOC or Bordeaux Superior AOC are now allowed to plant some different grape varieties.

On the red front we’ve got Arinarnoa, a cross of Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon developed in Bordeaux in 1956; Castets, a long forgotten Bordeaux grape, ‘almost extinct’ is all I can find out, though I guess that might change!; Marselan, a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache grown in the southwest and often blended with Tannat down there; and Touriga Nacional, a grape we all know and love from Portugal, more specifically in the wines from the Douro.

On the white front we’re welcoming Alvarinho, another Portugeezer also very popular in these parts in its Spanish version Albariño and Liliorila (shrug emoji) which is apparently a cross between Chardonnay and Baroque.

We’re excited because all new developments in wine excite us initially and it’s nice to see people thinking ahead to mitigate the effects of climate change, hydric stress and different ripening horizons. 

We’re miffed that Petit Manseng having made the final 7 just didn’t make the cut, we’re a little fond of it. The grape variety is one  we all know and love from Jurançon just a bit further south down near Biarritz.

We’re confused because for years and years we’ve been told that Bordeaux is the centre of fine wine and all the best grape varieties for the soils are already planted. Is that no longer the case? Do we now begin a long slippery slope into mediocrity, albeit the mediocrity of having twenty different grape varieties you can grow? Will our fears of thin, unripe Touriga Nacional and fat, overripe Alvarino be unfounded? We’ll see but at the moment you’re only allowed a maximum of 5% of your vineyard area and 10% of the final blend to be made from these ‘new’ varieties.

Disappointingly there are no changes to labelling regulations, so you won’t be able to tell before the cork is pulled what you’re drinking. But if it’s Pessac Leognan, Pauillac or one of the other named appellations, it’ll still be unchanged, for the moment. Let’s hope they keep the varieties unblended to start with so that we can see how they turnout.

Our outrage actually has nothing to do with this story but more to do with the the fact that so little has been made of the fact that red wine may actually be a good sports drink! An article in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition explored the possibility of supplementing Grape Polyphenols to mitigate exercise-induced physiological stress. Red grapes contain high levels of these antioxidant polyphenols that, the article states, seem to have a positive effect against oxidative stress. Surely it’s only a short leap to say that glass of red is good for you?

In other news this week, the PM has gone to Scotland, ostensibly to wind up Nicola Sturgeon we think but shopping for a new fridge and an eye test have not been ruled out. BooHoo have splashed out £55 million on Debenhams name and website, we still think it’ll end in tears.

With that we’ll bid you adieu, we’re here if you need us and you can email us if you need a delivery – February starts on Monday which means this is the last weekend of ‘6 for 5’ – don’t say we didn’t warn you!

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