Tasting No. 217 – January 27, 2020 – Cinsault

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Provence – By Marcello Averbug

Tasting Overview  Cinsaut also known as Cinsault is a dark-skinned red wine grape normally used as a blending ingredient with other grape varieties. The grapes come in large cylindrical bunches with fairly thick skins. This early ripening grape boasts natural, low levels of tannin and acidity and strong aromatic qualities.  In Provence, it can be and often is used in the production of Rosé. Cinsault, also plays a crucial role in the red wine blends of Southern France as well as the Pinotage wines of South Africa. In France, it is used as a blending grape in the Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence regions as well as the Southern Rhone. It is often called the Pinot Noir of the south.

Cinsault is one of the 13 varieties permitted in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region in Southern France (amazingly, there are more Cinsault vines in France than Cabernet Sauvignon vines!). One rarely finds it bottled on its own, which makes today’s wine all the more special. Cinsault tends to produce delicious wines that have the delicate body of a Pinot and the ripe berry fruit forwardness of a Zinfandel.

Cinsault seems to originally be from Provence and largely spread through the Rhône Valley and the Languedoc-Roussillon. He needs a lot of sun, resists well against drought and its maturity comes quite late. Black grape with white juice, very poor in tanin and with a juicy flesh, he is ideal to make excellent rosé wines! Cinsault is very distinctive thanks to its finesse and vivacity, its softness and its fruity aromas. Thanks to its balance and freshness, it is a perfect match to Mediterranean cuisine. Cinsault should nevertheless be reserved for poor soils with low yields to offer its most beautiful expressions. It has much in common with Grenache and at one time was grown for its generous yields. Light red berries are the most commonly associated flavor descriptors.

The objective of this tasting is to assess the features of rosé and red Cinsault wines and one blend based on the same variety.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Ruth Connolly

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Chateau Pesquie Luberon ‘Le Paradou’ Cinsault Rose, Rhone, France
  2. 2106 De Martino, Viejas Tinajas Cinsault, Itata Valley,  Chile
  3. 2013 Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault Lodi, Central Valley, California
  4. 2016 Chateau Musar Lebanon Hochar Pere et Fils , Bekaa Valley Lebanon

This is the menu:

  1. Clams with garlic and butter sauce
  2. Fennel with oranges and strawberries salad
  3. Pappardelle with meat sauce
  4. Lamb with rosemary, mashed potatoes and green beans
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants:  Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jaime Jaramillo, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Ginger Smart, Germán Zincke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2016 Chateau Pesquie Luberon ‘Le Paradou’ Cinsault Rose, Rhone, France

The Wine: Comments by Wine Seller: 

  • Fruit from Rousillion in southeastern France.
  • Noble great region – Grenache/syrah/carignan production
  • 100% cinsaut
  • Pretty pink rosé – basket full of strawberries
  • Pair with summer foods
  • Fantastic value for the price.

(From the Winery)

Description “Paradou” in the old Provençal language, the “langue d’oc,” refers to the old watermills that once dotted the landscape. Le Paradou is indeed a former watermill owned by the Chaudière Family and the guest house of Château Pesquié. Frédéric & Alexandre Chaudière, the new generation of the family, have selected great Cinsault plots to create a pale, crisp and fresh rosé.

Soil: limestone & sands at average altitude of about 200 m (650 ft).

Grapes: 100% Cinsault.

Vinification: The harvest is destemmed and placed in stainless steel vats at low temperature. 100% Direct press rosé. The malolactic transformation is blocked to support the natural acidity.

Tasting notes: Very pale color, with very bright and limpid reflections. Nose of red berries (red currants). The mouth is very balanced and very elegant, with tart notes, citrus, raspberries and red currant aromas, and a great freshness.

Food and Wine pairing: Ideal as an aperitif or to enjoy on your terrace. Le Paradou rosé will match perfectly grilled vegetables or white meats, salad and fresh starters, with goat cheese for instance, pizzas and most spicy dishes. For desserts, pair it with strawberry or raspberry pies and fruit soups. Best served around 10-12° C (50-53° F)

Purchased at Cairo Wines: https://www.dcwineguy.com/

The Winery: The terroir of Château Pesquié has one of the coolest micro climates in the south of the Rhône Valley. The terroir has a great mineral diversity, predominantly consisting of limestone. The Ventoux Mountain provides exceptional conditions to create outstanding wines.

There is evidence of vine cultivation at Château Pesquié that dates to two thousand years ago. The recent discovery of a pottery workshop and wine pottery from the Roman era (30 BC) in the Côtes du Ventoux Appellation confirms that the region is one of the oldest wine producing areas in France. The Church played a fundamental role in developing the region, particularly during the Pope’s residence in Avignon in the 14th Century.

In the early 1970’s, Odette & René Bastide bought Château Pesquié from an heir of a famous Provençal writer, Alphonse Daudet. Despite a long vine growing tradition in the area, the AOC Côtes du Ventoux was not created until 1973. It was the beginning of a new dynamic driving the local production toward quality rather than quantity. René & Odette largely restructured the vineyards. The results of that work are now vines that average 35 to 40 years of age (the oldest are close to a hundred years old).

The harvest starts early in the morning allowing the grapes to arrive at low temperatures. Depending on the soil, grape variety and age of the vines, maceration lasts between 12 and 30 days. Vinification and storage mainly take place in stainless steel and concrete vats. Still, the cuvees are aged in barrels and the Chaudiere. The beautiful ageing cellar contains more than 300 barrels. The Oxo-line supports facilitate stirring the wines and performing malolactic fermentation in the barrels. The Chaudiere Family possesses its own bottling equipment and bottles its wines at the Château as they control every step of the production.

Read more at: http://www.chateaupesquie.com/index.php

2106 De Martino, Viejas Tinajas Cinsault, Itata Valley,  Chile

The Wine: Vivino notes

  • Spiced red fruit, elegant cherry blossom and dry leather notes with some sweet sultana thrown in.
  • Fresh and vibrant
  • Dark, violet color
  • Floral bouquet, notes of violets / cherries / blackberries & black fruit.
  • Smooth, tense and fresh on the palate
  • great structure and persistence

Wine & Spirit notes – 95 points

  • Fermented and aged in clay
  • Comes from top of hill in Guariligne near Itata coast. Wine maker Marcelo Retanal who was playing with the grape’s early harvest to get a redder fruit flavor and greater tension. (Goal achieved in 2016.
  • Tea leaf & earth aromas finely integrated into a layer of tart red fruit.
  • Serious cinsaut.
  • Pleasant to drink

Wine Searcher:

  • Based on aggregated critic scores this is one of the top 10 Itata Valley wines: Tim Atkin gave the 2018 vintage a score of 94.
  • Based on our Quality Price Ratio calculations, this wine represents great value for money.
  • Among the highest-priced wines from Itata.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate – 93 points:

De Martino resurrects an old winemaking tradition of using large earthenware jars, known as amphorae or tinajas, that is deeply rooted in rural Chilean winemaking culture to create this all-natural wine. The fruit is cultivated from an unirrigated vineyard in the heart of the coastal mountain region of the Itata Valley located 400 kilometers south of Santiago and 22 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. Viejas Tinajas, meaning “old amphorae,” is fermented and aged in 100-year-old amphorae that have been rescued by the De Martino family.  The winery does not intervene or disrupt the process at all.  A lovely fresh nose of red currant jam and violets is well defined. The palate is medium in body with crisp red currant and dark cherry accented by touches of fig and marmalade.

Purchased at Cairo Wines: https://www.dcwineguy.com/

The Winery: (FromWine.com) The De Martino family has been producing wine in Chile’s famous Maipo Valley for almost 70 years. The wines reflect the area’s terroir, resulting in big, rich, extracted flavor. Delicate use of oak adds complexity, but the strength of De Martino wines is in their fruit. These wines are concentrated and elegant, each with a distinctive personality. The winery has received a flurry of recognition from Chile’s most prestigious wine guide. The 2004 Guia de Vinos de Chile singled out De Martino winemaker Marcelo Retamal as “Winemaker of the Year” and named the Legado Sauvignon Blanc, Legado Carmenere and Gran Familia Cabernet Sauvignon as the top wines in their categories.

The first vines of the Itata Valley were planted by Spanish conquerors in 1551, thereby making this region a forerunner of winemaking in Chile. Due to its proximity to the city of Concepción –one of the main Chilean ports at the time- this valley soon became one of the largest wine supplier, not only to the rest of the national territory, but also to the entire Spanish Empire in the Americas.

The Itata region started to lose its relevance in the 19th century, when aristocratic families began to travel to France and brought cuttings from there. This period coincides with the phylloxera, so French winemakers also arrived in Chile. From then on, viticulture turned mostly to the central-northern zone, and the south, together with our history, started to lose importance and these vineyards were cast into indifference.

Today, the Itata Valley is flourishing again thanks to its incomparable terroir and the effort of producers who have visualized the opportunities of this place and of rediscovering the roots of our viticulture.

Read more at: https://www.demartino.cl/index.php

2013 Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault Lodi, Central Valley, California

The Wine: WE: Leafy, fennel-like aromas top this fresh, grapy and well-balanced wine. It tastes lively and tangy but also brings good ripeness and richness to the palate. Made from vines as old as 130 years, it’s a wonderful break from the ordinary. 91 Points

(The Wine Spies) Bright red on the nose, with Bing cherry, pomegranate, and red currant, followed by dried fall leaves, dried wild mushroom, kola nut, cedar and slate mineral. Spectacular on the palate, bursting with juicy Bing cherry, blueberry, raspberry, wild strawberry, soft spice, slate mineral, softly toasted oak, vanilla, and a hint of white pepper.

Purchased at : Wine.com

The Winery:  (From Wine.com) Positioned between the San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Lodi appellation, while relatively far inland, is able to maintain a classic Mediterranean climate featuring warm, sunny days and cool evenings. This is because the appellation is uniquely situated at the end of the Sacramento River Delta, which brings chilly, afternoon “delta breezes” to the area during the growing season.

Lodi is a premier source of 100+ year old ancient Zinfandel vineyards—some dating back as far as 1888! With low yields of small berries, these heritage vines produce complex and bold wines, concentrated in rich and voluptuous, dark fruit. But Lodi doesn’t just produce Zinfandel; in fact, the appellation produces high quality wines from over 100 different grape varieties. Among them are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc as well as some of California’s more rare and unique grapes. Lodi is recognized as an ideal spot for growing Spanish varieties like Albarino and Tempranillo, Portugese varieties—namely Touriga Nacional—as well as many German, Italian and French varieties.

Soil types vary widely among Lodi’s seven sub-appellations (Cosumnes River, Alta Mesa, Deer Creek Hills, Borden Ranch, Jahant, Clements Hills and Mokelumne River). The eastern hills are clay-based and rocky and in the west, along the Mokelumne and Cosumnes Rivers, sandy and mineral-heavy soils support the majority of Lodi’s century-old own-rooted Zinfandel vineyards. Unique to Lodi are pink Rocklin-Jahant loam soils, mainly found in the Jahant sub-appellation.

Jillian found her passion for wine while studying neurobiology at UC Davis. Home brewing introduced her to the magic of fermentation, and after taking the “Introductory to Winemaking” class at UC Davis, she quickly switched her major to Viticulture and Enology. She graduated with her degree in 2001 and soon thereafter found herself as an intern at the infamous Bonny Doon Winery.

Her desire to learn more about winemaking has taken her around the globe. To gain essential winemaking experience in a short time, Jillian traveled to the southern hemisphere to work an additional harvest each year. For three years she traveled south to learn how to work with different varieties and observe different winemaking styles. She did internships in McLaren Vale (South Australia), Margaret River (Western Australia), and Stellenbosch (South Africa). Syrah quickly became her deepest passion and she returned to Bonny Doon as Associate Winemaker in 2005, focusing her talents on the Rhone varieties that the Dooner is known for. She played a major role in the transition to biodynamic winemaking at Bonny Doon.

Now a truly seasoned winemaker, Jillian has started her own passion project, Onesta. She is an artist with a scientific mind. Her artistic expression is manifested in her wines. Jillian believes life should be filled with family, good friends and adventure. Life is short, life by truth and honesty and you will always find peace and happiness. Connect with the people in your life and enjoy wine on a regular basis. Her wines are a library of her life and each year tells a different story and adventure.

Read more at: https://www.lodiwine.com/blog/lodis-oldest-existing-vines-the-magical-bechthold-vineyard

2016 Chateau Musar Lebanon Hochar Pere et Fils , Bekaa Valley Lebanon

The Wine:Winemaker Notes: The Hochar of this year is bright ruby red in colour with red fruits,plums, sloes and cherries on the nose and palate. This balanced and elegant wine combines vibrant fruit on a medium body with soft tannins, good acidity and cellared well, it will keep for several years. Blend: 50% Cinsault, 35% Grenache, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Hochar Père et Fils is sourced from vineyards near the village of Aana in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. The grapes were fermented between 27°C and 29°C with maceration in cement vats, followed by 6 months in French Nevers oak barrels. Winery notes: “bright ruby red in colour with red fruits, plums, sloes and cherries on the nose and palate. This balanced and elegant wine combines vibrant fruit on a medium body with soft tannins, good acidity and cellared well, it will keep for several years.”

Purchased at:  Wine.com


The Winery: he wines of Chateau Musar are unique expressions from a country with an ancient winemaking culture, as vines have been cultivated from Lebanon’s high altitude Bekaa Valley for over 6,000 years. The Hochar family’s philosophy of respect for the environment means that the 180 hectares of Musar vineyards are managed with minimal human interference and all the wines are made naturally.

Chateau Musar was founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar. In 1959, after studying oenology at the University of Bordeaux, his son Serge became winemaker. The civil war that tore Lebanon apart from 1975 to 1990 did not defeat Chateau Musar; Serge refused to abandon the wine, and lost only the 1976 and 1984 vintages to the war. Owing to his inspiring determination and grand passion for his wines, Serge received the inaugural “Man of the Year Award” from Decanter magazine in 1984. Recognition from Michael Broadbent, at the 1979 Bristol Wine Fair, threw Musar into the international spotlight and helped create a cult-like following. Chateau Musar is one of the most written-about and discussed wines in the world today.

Home of the actual, historical temple of Bacchus, which dates back to the middle of the 2nd century AD, the Bekaa Valley today continues to represent the center of Lebanese winemaking. Here summers are dry, nights cool and consistent rainfall provides an excellent environment for viticulture.

What today is known geographically as Lebanon, was the original home of the Phoenicians (approximately 1550 to 300 BC), who were sea-faring merchants and the first to trade wine as a commodity. Jumping to the Middle Ages (476 to 1453 AD), Lebanese wine continued to be of high value for Venice merchants, who sold it to the eager European buyers. But in 1517, when the Ottoman Empire took command in Lebanon, winemaking came to a halt. Christians were the only ones allowed to make it, and only for religious purposes.

The foundations of the modern Lebanese wine industry come from the mid-19th century Jesuit missionaries of Ksara, who introduced new varieties and production methods from the then French-dominated Algeria. Today French varieties still prevail with Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah as the main red grape varieties and Ugni blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Viognier as the main whites.

While Chateau Musar was the only producer to survive the Lebanese 15 year-long civil war, the 1990s saw an emergence of new producers such as Chateau Kefraya, Chateau Ksara and new investment from major French producers.

Read more at: https://chateaumusar.com/

CV Members Rating (TBA)

View full evaluation here: 217 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault Lodi, Central Valley, California

Best Buy: 2013 Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault Lodi, Central Valley, California

Technical Notes 

Note compiled by Ruth Connolly


References used:   www.wikipedia.com / www.winefolly.com /www.wine-searcher.com / www.thewinecellarinsider.com / www.winemag.com / www.ministryofdrinks.co.uk /

History. Cinsaut (cinsault) apparently had its origin in France, although it could be an ancient variety originating in the Hérault.  Equally, it could have been brought by traders from the eastern Mediterranean. After having enjoyed a period of expansion, Cinsault production has been declining in many if not most of its locations of production.

Distribution:  Cinsaut plays a crucial role in the red wine blends of Southern France as well as in the Pinotage wines of South Africa. In France, it is used as a blending grape in the Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence regions as well as in the Southern Rhone to give softness and aromatics to wines composed of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan grapes. It is fairly low in tannins, yet high in fruit character and acidity making it better suited as a blending varietal.

Cinsaut is a perfect grape for the Rhone Valley as it thrives in the hot, windy weather.  Outside of the Rhone Valley, it is much more popular in other areas of Southern France including Bandol and the Languedoc.  At least one Languedoc producer, Domaine Le Boede, makes wine using 100% Cinsault.  Cinsault is also quite popular in the following appellations: Gigondas, Tavel, Cotes du Rhone, Costieres de Nimes, Coteaux du Tricastin, Cotes du Ventoux and the Cotes du Luberon.  Cinsault figures as a minor component of Chateauneuf du Pape.

Internationally, Cinsaut (cinsault) is grown in Algeria, Spain, Italy, Australia, Corsica, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Chile, the United States and South Africa.  Cinsault is the primary frappe variety in Morocco and is combined with grapes like Carignan and Grenache to add bouquet and softness.  It is equally important and a major varietal in Tunisia, Lebanon. Corsica, Algeria and South Africa due to its tolerance of dry, hot climates.

Cinsaut is also important in the South African wine region. Pinotage, one of the most widely planted varietals in South Africa, is actually a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. The resulting wines tend to have a red berry characteristic with notes of spice and earth. While some Cinsaut is bottled on its own, its role in the red blends of France and Pinotage wines of South Africa is most prominent.   Cinsaut is also blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.

In Australia cinsaut is grown under a variety of names such as Black Prince, Blue Imperial, Oeillade and Ulliade.  In Italy, where it is known as Ottavianello, there is one tiny DOC devoted to Cinsaut – Ostuni Ottavianello, with a total production of less than 1000 cases a year.

In California, where production dates back to the 19th century, cinsaut was known as “Black Malvoisie.”  When paired with zinfandel, it was known as claret.   Cinsaut is also planted in Washington state’s Yakima Valley AVA, and in the high plains of Texas A.V.A.  It has been cultivated in Colorado.

Current Status of the Cinsault Grape. There are producers making wines from 100% Cinsault, for example; D’Arenberg in Australia. In California, not many growers are using the grape. A few of the better estates making 100% Cinsault are Bonny Doon, Castle Vineyard and Frick.

Despite its favorable qualities, Cinsault is currently suffering a worldwide decline in production.  The grape is decreasing in total acreage in vineyards all over the world. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, 14% of the grape variety was culled from vineyards all over the world and replaced with other, red wine grapes, which are easier to cultivate.  To give an idea of the potential impact on its countries of production, some statistics on national production follow:  France 36%, South Africa 30%, Chile 15%, Lebanon 9%, USA 8%, Italy 1%, Spain 1%, Other 1%.

Pairings with Food: Cinsault is often used with sea snails in garlic, a.k.a escargot. It also works quite well in pairings with rich foods like stews, braised and roasted meat dishes, all types of beef, lamb, goat, beef, duck, chicken and pork.  It can go with creamy Thai curry, spices, fried dough, pizza and fresh red fruits.

This entry was posted in Meeting Abstract and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s