Medoc vintners turn to tricky grape to boost 2009 vintage

Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:04pm EDT
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By Marcel Michelson

BORDEAUX (Reuters Life!) - A rare and difficult grape variety can make all the difference for a well-known wine-making area such as the Medoc near Bordeaux.

Several, if not the majority, of Medoc vintners have added parts of the Petit Verdot -- little green one -- grape variety into the blend for their 2009 vintages.

That gives the wines of that year an extra roundness which makes them more interesting than, say, those of 2006 when the blend was made up of the usual three varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Malbec can also be allowed into the blend but this robust grape is now mainly used in the stronger wines of the Cahors region.

Denis Bergey of Chateau Breuilh, for instance, used Petit Verdot in his 2009 wine that, while still young, already has a rather full body. His 2006, while older, tastes younger.

"One is a wine to have a meal with, the other is for an afternoon drink," he said at the Vinexpo wine trade fair, held every two years.

Medoc is the Bordeaux region's closest wine-making area to the Atlantic Ocean and further west than higher-priced areas such as Saint-Estephe or Saint Julien, all of them sit on the south side of the Gironde estuary.

Petit Verdot had nearly disappeared because it is a difficult grape to grow and must be harvested late, which exposes it more than other grapes to the vagaries of climate.   Continued...

<p>A woman tastes a glass of red wine in the cellar of Chateau Malescasse (Haut Medoc label) in Lamarque, southwestern France, November 6, 2007. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>