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Maharashtra Grape Varietals in Bordeaux

Maybe it is the influence of French winemakers in India that may make Bordeaux consider cultivating the ubiquitous Maharashtra international grape variety Chenin Blanc along with Shiraz, Zinfandel and Chardonnay, the decision about which will be taken by the National Institute of Appellations by the month-end.

The INAO may allow the trials of growing these varieties and more in the region where it is illegal at the moment to grow anything but Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec ( Carmenere is also allowed but rarely grown) as red grape varietals and  Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle for the white varieties. Ugni Blanc (trebbiano), Colombard, Mauzac and Merlot Blanc etc. are also allowed but only as minor blending grapes.

The trials would be carried out for 8 years (3 years before the d-day and 5 years after the first harvest to study the results), if the permission is granted.  During the trials, four to eight locations will be tested for each of the varieties, according to Decanter

During this time, only 10% of the planted area of any vineyard participating in the trials may contain the new varieties. However, the grapes may be used for blending, with a maximum of 30% in the final blend.

Mrs. Veronique Barthe, the owner and winemaker of Chateau la Freynelle in Entre Deux Mers, who is working on the project with the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur Union said, 'We are not trying to make 100% Shiraz in Bordeaux, but to test which grapes work best on which Terroir in the region with the intention of introducing them only if they offer real quality,' she said.

It is believed that the new varieties may turn out to be better blending grapes than the existing allowed varieties, including Ugni Blanc. 'The results may also useful in terms of potential climate change. We can look into which grapes may be able to adapt to and withstand greater temperatures,' she said.

Incidentally, barring Chardonnay which has found a very limited success in Maharashtra so far, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Zinfandel are being grown in plenty and successfully in the belt.

 

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