Grape Me: Cinsault

Free tasting | Friday, March 8, 2019 | 5-7PM


Map credit:  Wine Folly

Map credit: Wine Folly

Are you into lighter reds like Beaujolais and Pinot Noir but you’re itching to try a new grape varietal? Enter Cinsault!

Cinsault is a red grape variety that is indigenous to the Languedoc in southern France where the first written mentioning of it dates back to 1600. It produces a light-bodied, fresh red or rosé wine exploding with acidity and fruit. Despite its hardy size and plump berries (see photo) Cinsault loves the toasty weather of the Languedoc and South Africa. It also withstands drier weather and drought extremely well and is a crucial winemaking grape in Northern Africa, Lebanon, Israel, and South Africa wine trade.

Cinsault’s big claim to fame is being one of the proud parent grapes of the grape Pinotage, which is a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault that originated in South Africa. This cross was bred in 1925 by a Cape-born South African professor named Abraham Izak Perold, who, like only the best professors, was a bit absentminded; while traveling overseas he forgot that he had planted the first and only cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault in his garden. Luckily these seedlings were rescued by another scientist and the grape of Pinotage was literally born. 

Cinsault also tastes particularly well in blends; it’s commonly blended with grapes like Carignan in Southern France and it adds beautiful aromas of rose petals and red cherries and a soft, lush body to wines like Minervois and Corbières. You can also find exciting blends of Cinsault all across the globe from Chile to Washington State to Southern Italy (where Cinsault is called Ottavianello). 

On Friday, we’re showing four wines from around the world made from Cinsault, as well as an excellent Pinotage to give you some reference of an excellent Cinsault offspring! 

See you then!


2018 Swick Wines, The Beav American Sparkling Wine 

Who: Joe Swick

What: Blend of Cinsault, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling 

Where: Oregon, USA

How: Method pétillant naturel and is disgorged by hand

Fun Fact: Biodynamic winemaker Joe Swick is a huge Michael Bolton fan. HUGE.

What It Tastes Like: Mysterious, unfiltered, tropical fun!


2017 Longaví, Glup Cinsault Valle de Itata

Who: Julio Bouchon and David Nienwoudt

What: 100% Cinsault

Where: Itata, Chile

How: 6 months in amphora

Fun Fact: Have you heard of phylloxera, that insect that consumed most of the world’s vineyards in the 19th century? Chile is one of the only wine producing countries in the world that (knock on wood!) has not had an outbreak. Scientists are puzzled about Chile’s immunity since even this country’s next door neighbor, Argentina, has encountered a phylloxera outbreak.

What It Tastes Like: Super fresh, tart raspberries and blackberries, and a wash of Southern Pacific Ocean acidity.


2016 Clos Bagatelle, Clos Bagatelle Lulu St. Chinian

Who: The sibling duo, Luc and Christine

What: Blend of Carignan and Cinsault

Where: Languedoc-Roussillon, France

How: This blend is aged for 6 months in large casks.

Fun Fact: The name Bagatelle has two meanings in Latin: A) a small estate B) an acrobatic trick performed by a tumbler

What It Tastes Like: Chewy, earthy, red cherry bomb


2017 Tiger Horse, Old Vine Cinsault

Who: Winemaker Marinda Kruger van Eck

What: 100% Cinsault

Where: Western Cape, South Africa

How: It chills out briefly in stainless steel tank.

Fun Fact: Out of the 54 countries in Africa only 8 (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa) produce wine!

What It Tastes Like: Easy drinking, gnarly goodness from 40 year old bush vines


2016 David & Nadia Pinotage, Swartland

Who: Winemakers David and Nadia Sadie

What: 100% Pinotage

Where: Western Cape, South Africa - These Pinotage grapes comes from the Sadie family Paardebosch farm 

How: All organically farmed grapes from old and dry land bush vines; matured for twelve months in foudres. 

Fun Fact: Pinotage is called the “farmer’s grape” because of its earlier ripening characteristics. This allows David and Nadia to harvest before heat waves, ensuring freshness in their wines.

What It Tastes Like: Dusty, lush dark berries. Juicy and easy. Don’t write off Pinotage yet! When done right (like this one) it is so delicious.