Andrew Murray Curtis Vineyard Cinsault 2013
Ranging from cool and foggy in the west to warm and dry in the east, the Santa Ynez Valley is a climatically diverse growing area. The most expansive AVA within the larger Santa Barbara County region, Santa Ynez is also home to a wide variety of soil types and geographical features. The appellation is further divided into four distinct sub-AVAs—Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District and Happy Canyon—each with its own defining characteristics.
A wide selection of grapes is planted here—more than sixty different varieties, and counting. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate in the chilly west, while Zinfandel, Rhône blends, and Bordeaux blends rule the arid east. Syrah is successful at both ends of the valley, with a lean and peppery, Old-World sensibility closer to the coast and lush berry fruit further inland.
A charmer in the Rhône Valley, Cinsault offers up generous peppery and floral aromas and ripe strawberry flavors to its blends. It actually has been grown for centuries in the Languedoc and is a popular blending grape in most appellations of the southern Rhône as well as other parts of the southern France.
Cinsault thrives in any hot and windy climate, and finds success in many other countries, namely California, Chile, Corsica, Lebanon, northern Africa and is a parent grape alongside Pinot noir, of South Africa’s acclaimed red grape, Pinotage.
In the Glass
Though a minor portion of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, it plays an important role adding softness, lift, spice and an almost electric red fruit to blends. Southern France also makes some delightful Cinsault dominant rosés. On its own, it is supple, fresh and fruity with a hint of pepper or baking spice.
Cinsault pairs well with stews, gamey meats, rosemary chicken and roasted duck or winter squash.
Given its relatively long history in California, Cinsualt is often “hidden” in the Zinfandel blends of Sonoma and Contra Costa Counties. Historically planted alongside Zinfandel and other grapes, such as Petite Sirah or Mourvedre in the same vineyard, Cinsault is now an essential part of these so-called “field blends.”