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What is cinsault?

Also spelled “Cinsaut”, Cinsault is a red grape that has historically been grown in the Rhone Valley of France. Currently, it is widely grown throughout that country. The varietal is also extensively planted in the former French colonies of Northern Africa.

Growers love Cinsault because it is relatively easy to produce and yields are high. The varietal does not need a lot of water nor a long growing season. However, the grape does have some inherent pitfalls.

Humidity is the arch nemesis of Cinsault. Because the grape grows in very compact bunches, rot can be an issue. If left to its own devices, the vine will overproduce fruit. The varietal can lack distinction when it is produced in very high quanities and will make bland, uninteresting wines.

Thankfully, there is currently a movement to grow smaller amounts of the grape per acre. Wines made from this fruit have significantly more defined aromas and flavors than mass-produced versions. Several producers in the Languedoc region of Southern France have recently produced some noteable examples of this style.

What is cinsault?

Extended maceration of the must before fermentation begins seems to be one of the keys to making rounder, more balanced wines with Cinsault. Naturally low in tannins, it is often blended with full-bodied, even borderline abrasive varietals such as Carignan.