Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Get to Know a Grape: Cinsault

With the weather finally warming up, we thought it'd be a perfect time to take a look at a great Rosé grape: Cinsault!

Cinsault (or Cinsaut, if you prefer) is a hardy grape. It can tolerate heats that make other grapes wilt on the vine and can produce yields that would make Chardonnay blush. It is commonly used in a variety of wines, but it is perhaps best-known making intense reds from South Africa, where it goes by the name of Hermitage and for being blended in fantastic rosé wines from Languedoc and Rousillion in France. It is also planted in Italy (where it is known as Ottavianello), Lebanon, Australia, and Morocco.

Cinsault vines produce thick-skinned grapes which are resistant to drought, but can be susceptible to disease, rot, and mildew. This makes hot, dry climates the ideal place for this grape. Wines made from Cinsault tend to be very flavourful, with soft tannins and penetrating aromas of strawberries, cherries, and perfume. Good Cinsault wines (particularly those made with smaller yields) often have a very pleasant, velvety mouth-feel. Cinsault is occasionally vinified on its own, but more frequently, it is blended with Grenache and/or Carignan to add structure and tannins. As a rosé wine, Cinsault pairs tremendously well with strawberries, salads, or Danish blue cheese (the saltiness of the cheese balances out with the sweet aromas of Cinsault quite well). As a red wine, it pairs well with red meats, such as veal, lamb, and pheasant.

The Short Version
Names: Cinsault, Hermitage, Cinsaut, Ottavianello
Flavour Profile (rosé): Strong aromas of fruits, with light flavours and soft mouthfeel Flavour Profile (red): Soft, with dark fruit aromas and light-to-mid weight
Best-Known Regions: Languedoc-Roussilion, Provence, South Africa, Puglia
Price Range: $15-$40
Food Pairings (rosé): Strawberries, light salads, salty cheeses
Food Pairings (red): Veal, lamb, pheasant.

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