Tuesday, 03 July 2012

Wines of the week: July 6

This week I'm drinking: Cinsault

Written by Henry Jeffreys

Wine cannot react quickly to the vagaries of fashion. Newly planted vines take about five years before they bear fruit; even longer before the fruit can make top-notch wine. In the 1990s, acres of Chardonnay were planted in the Languedoc that reached maturity just as it went out of fashion. Many of the vines pulled up for this incomer were Cinsault and Carignan – two that are only now being recognised as a source of excellent wine. There’s a lesson here somewhere.

Domaine de Fontlade, Saint-Qvinis Rosé 2011 (The Wine Society, £7.50) Much of the Cinsault was originally planted across the south of France to make rosé. After years as the joke of the wine world, rosé is enjoying a boom. I bet these Provençal producers are glad they didn’t pull up their vines in response to the whims of fashion. This one smells of sweet strawberries and aniseed, and is bone dry and very refreshing. Quite delicious.

Domaine d’Aupilhac Les Servières 2010 (The Sampler, £10.89) Received opinion was that thin-skinned delicate Cinsault doesn’t have enough oomph to work on its own in a red wine. Received opinion is wrong. From the Languedoc, this is light, but intense with flavours of nose – herbs, oranges, cherries and even a hint of green tea. Ideal lunchtime red served cool.

De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2011 (The Wine Society, £8.95) This vibrant, fresh-tasting red is aged in amphora – like wine from ancient Greece. It’s a world away from the nice, but slightly dull wines that made Chile’s reputation.

Château Noël St-Laurent Côtes du Rhône 2010 (Booths, £7.99) Shows how well Cinsault works in blend with its big brothers Syrah and Grenache. This powerful Rhône will improve with age, but is beautifully balanced now; very rich and meaty, but with great fragrance.

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