OK, I think maybe for the first time last night I had a wine with a very prominent cinsault blend. The wine was a Cab Sav/ Cinsault blend, Chateau Musar "Hochar" from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. I picked it off the list as it was one of the only glasses I didn't know off the top of my head. When opened it was very tight and acrid tasting. Acrid? Sure, why not. In any event, after sitting in the glass it opened up to this wonderful round, yet strange bouquet and flavor combination. Almost hints of cedar to it with some berry and even a little minerality.
I'd like to learn a bit more about this grape, so teach me oh wise wine board.
Have only had two all-Cinsault wines, neither of them recently. I remember them as being more remarkable for their bouquets than their palates, which jibes with one of Cinsault's traditional roles in blends, to add fragrance to Languedoc's sullen Carignan. Don't know that I would attribute Musar's magic to the grape variety as opposed to winemaking style, brett and other factors; the wines can taste quite different, though nearly always special, from vintage to vintage.
Anyway, for what they're worth, here are my tasting notes.
Capitelle de Centeilles 1994, Minervois
A 100% cinsault wine vinified like a Burgundy. Limpid medium ruby, rather Burgundian in fact. Appealing, unusual, fresh nose of strawberry, sour cherry and raspberry fruit with a hint of icing sugar and notes of tapenade, fresh thyme and bay leaf, subtle vanilla oak and eventually mocha; the combination of sweet and sour is enticing. Medium bodied and silky with a Beaujolais-like fruitiness but added depth provided by supple tannins, moderate acidity and a light but pervasive astringency, especially on the finish. Original, enjoyable and lovely with grilled chicken. Drink now. (11/2/99)
Cinsault 1992, D.E.W.N., California, Bonny Doon Vineyard
According to the label, the swan song of an old vineyard in the Dry Creek area of Sonoma County. Hazy medium red-purple with the faintest hint of orange at the rim. Attractive nose of spice and dried herbs with smoke, mineral and animal notes against a backdrop of cherry and chocolate. Pleasant but less enthralling in the mouth. Medium bodied with a velvety texture. Fruity attack; undistinguished mid-palate marked by rather corse tannins; very long, faintly astringent, herb, pepper and cherry-flavoured finish. A near-ideal wine to accompany Portugese-style grilled pork scallops. (6/1/99)
Two different issues: Cinsault and Chateau Musar.
Musar is unique in all the world. You may wish to check out their website: www.chateaumusar.com/ Also, in the US, their importer is Broadbent Seleciotns, and their website has a lot of info, too. http://www.broadbent-wines.com/index.... -- then follow the additional links for more information.
Lebanon aside, Cinsault is one of the "Top Five" most planted red wine varieties in France. It is most commonly associated with wines from the Southern Rhone (Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Cotes-du-Rhone, etc.) and in most reds of the Languedoc, where it is generally the "third" leg of the Grenache-Carignane-Cinsault "tripod" upon which most wines are based. It's also found in the former French colonies of Algeria and Morocco. It's also grown in California and in South Africa.
Almost all of the time, it's a true blending grape -- VERY RARELY is it produced as a varietal wine, or as the dominant grape. Frick Winery in California used to -- I don't know, perhaps they still do -- make a Cinsault and a Cinsault rose, and there is one rather obscure DOC in Italy that makes Cinsault, IIRC. But that's pretty much it. (Again, IIRC.)