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Scholium Project 1MN Cinsault 2013
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Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from tiny, family-owned boutiques to massive corporations, and price and production are equally varied. Plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Valley area, while Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) and sub-AVA of has its own distinct personality, allowing California to produce wine of every fashion: from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate vineyard acreage. Sonoma County is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône Blends blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with cool climate varieties such as Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, any wine lover will find something to get excited about here.
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.”