Wine Wednesday: Cinsault

By: Cecily Gamba

Happy Wine Wednesday, everyone! It’s that time of week again for the next stop on our educational adventure through all things Rhône. This week's varietal of choice: Cinsault!

While having been regarded as simply a blending grape for years, Cinsault is becoming much more favored as a varietal wine. Falling victim to the ever changing trends in the world of wine, Cinsault has gone from widely planted, to brutally torn up and tossed aside, and back to favorable once more.

Capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, droughts, and winds, this robust grape has played a role in many of the world’s leading wine industries, from France to South Africa.

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There are two theories for where this ancient grape originated. One is that Cinsault originated in the Southern French region of Hérault, and one theory is that the grape was brought to France by traders from the eastern Mediterranean. The grape was not brought to California until the 1860’s. The oldest continuous Cinsault vineyard in the world is said to be the Bechtold Vineyard in Lodi, California, which was planted in 1885. Fun Fact: the girl & the fig’s Sonoma Roadside Cinsault is produced using grapes from this vineyard!

As stated before, the Cinsault grape is very robust, and does very well in hot, dry climates. The growing season for Cinsault is short, and the grapes are large, black, thin skinned and fleshy. The vine is very high yielding, and because of that, the fruit is often diluted in flavor and offered little in terms of sensory interest. However, properly managed crop loads produce distinct wines with powerful aromas and soft tannins. The grape is often used in the Rhône as a blending partner for Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah, and is one of the minor grape varieties permitted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

On the nose, Cinsaults can give off aromas of strawberry, red cherry, berries, and perfume. The palate offers flavors of nectarine, cardamom, raspberry, pomegranate, and peppercorn. Cinsault flavors can greatly vary based on the oak aging regimen.

Try it at the girl & the fig!