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Time for Cinsault? I think so.

A lot has been written about Ian’s favourite grape in recent years. In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, Cinsault was widely planted throughout the country, and blended with Cab Sauv and other Bordeaux varietals to make some of South Africa’s most iconic red wines. The phenomenal ageability of some of these wines might have suggested that there was something quite special about the grape. But it was predominantly employed as a workhorse grape, bulking up yields and often fortified.

Over time, much of the varietal was dug up and replaced with Chenin and Colombar. These high-yielding white grapes were planted en masse to make brandy and bulk wine. These vines have aged and many are now producing some fantastic wines. But that’s a story for another time.

About 10 years ago, a curious thing happened. Winemakers started to experiment with Cinsault as a single varietal wine. There had always been a few making it in a darker, heavier, more extracted kind of way, but suddenly there was interest in making lighter, fresher wine.

Ian was immediately drawn to it, preferring this type of wine. Cinsault offered such beautiful aromatics and acidity when picked early, and he was hooked. Thanks to Rosa Kruger he was able to secure grapes from some of the country’s most revered old vines, he’s been making it ever since.

So today, gone are the big, alcoholic Cinsault’s. At least, they’re not on our radar. Today it’s the more refined, elegant, fresh, Turkish Delight Cinsault that is helping to redefine the country’s wine offering.

The Wine for all the time

For those that consider Cinsault to be a light summer red, think again. The whole world has seen a shift towards lighter, fresher wines, and Cinsault can produce such a great example of this. Considering our temperate winters, you should always have a bottle close at hand.

It pairs beautifully with just about every meal and every occasion. Pasta: Cinsault. Roast Beef: Cinsault. Chicken a la anything: Cinsault. Seafood: Cinsault. An autumn sunset: You guessed it. It’s as versatile a wine as you can imagine. Granted, when it’s snowing, and you’ve lit a roaring fire, you have our permission to open up a big, dark, oaky red. But for every other occasion during the coming months, there’s Cinsault.

Eben Sadie, Donavan Rall, Lukas van Loggerenberg, Alex Milner and a number of others make fantastic versions. And you should get hold of them. But only after you email and request whatever is left of the 2015 Naudé Old Vine Cinsault.

As a winemaker, it helps to be a lot like Cinsault: Productive, thick-skinned and able to withstand the heat.

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