Underrated Wine You Should Look For! (Part Two)
Though it’s coming in fits and starts, Fall is mercifully on the way. That’s right, time to put away the floaties and hard seltzers because the gourds are coming out. The best wine pairing for sweater weather and related auburn, autumnal fare? Light-bodied reds of course. Anytime anyone asks for the best Thanksgiving wine the first thing to come to mind is king Beaujolais and the ten crus. But if you are tired of trying to figure out the differences between Morgon and Fleurie, why not mix it up with something equally delicious and a little more worldly? Something like Cinsault!
Like Gamay, Cinsault is a grape of pleasure and is not shy about it. Partial or fully carbonic macerations/fermentations tend to be the norm and the process suits it well, emphasizing a red floral component that compliments its natural ripe strawberry flavors and softer texture. One of the things I like most about well made Cinsault is that, while it is a softer, lighter bodied red, it never lacks for flesh. It’s able to be lithe and refreshing while also having a satisfying roundness on the palate. Most chuggable.
Cinsault’s ability to cope with heat, drought, and warm soils along with its productivity has made it a popular choice outside of its French home of Languedoc-Roussillon. In the 1950’s and 1960’s Algerian Cinsault was imported to Burgundy to beef up the thin lackluster wines. It is still one of the most widely planted grapes in Morocco, though unfortunately I’ve never come across any varietal examples.
It is the second most planted red grape in South Africa where it also spawned Pinotage, a popular (if problematic) offspring; try Natte Valleij’s Coastal Cinsault for a varietal expression and Mother Rock’s Force Celeste for a Cinsault lead blend.
It is the third most planted grape in Lebanon where Chateau Musar famously blends it with Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan in roughly equal proportions for its eponymous flagship wine. For a varietal expression try Domaine des Tourelles, also out of the Bekka Valley.
In Chile’s cooler, southerly regions you can find Garage Wine Co.’s Secano Interior Yumbel Cinsault and Longavi’s ‘Glup’ Cinsault from Valle del Itata.
In California Birichino makes a gorgeous old vine Cinsault from the Bechtold Vineyard.
And if you want to get a feel for its roots, head to the French section and seek out these producer’s varietal expressions: Domaine des Terres Falmet, Domaine d’Aupilhac, Domaine des Homs, and Mas des Chimères.
Daniel Runnerstrom, Wine Sales Williams Corner