Petit verdot, one of Bordeaux’s lesser-known red grape varieties, is on the rise according to figures from the Bordeaux wine trade body (CIVB).

Statistics provided by the CIVB show an increase of over 10% of petit verdot in the region with plantings growing from 422 to 479ha (hectares) in recent years.

According to producers, this increase is mainly due to the recent run of warmer harvests.

Other less-used grapes such as the red malbec and white muscadelle are also finding their way into blends in greater quantities, particularly in Cotes de Bourg and Premieres Cotes de Blaye.

Jerome Eymas from Chateau la Rose Bellevue in Premieres Cotes de Blaye has up to 30% muscadelle in his unoaked white wine.

‘The less well known appellations have started to understand that they need to stand out,’ Eymas told decanter.com. ‘It’s not enough to have Bordeaux on the label for the lower priced wines. You need to have a real identity, and better weather has meant it is less of a gamble to try grapes like malbec or petit verdot.’

Chateau Bel Air La Royere, also in Premieres Cotes de Baye, has at least 25% malbec in its mix. Thierry Bos of Domaine de Bouillerot in the generic Bordeaux appellation area makes a blend of petit verdot, carmenère and malbec, all in equal parts.

Appellation rules in Bordeaux allow six red and seven white grape varieties, but only four are widely used (merlot and cabernet sauvignon; sauvignon blanc and semillon), as the maritime climate means more delicate grapes often have a hard time ripening.

The other allowed grapes in Bordeaux incude ugni blanc, merlot blanc, mauzac, odenc and colombard (white), and cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec and carmenere (red).

Written by Jane Anson