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The Cinsault Affair.

Cinsault has burst onto the South African wine scene, demurely lowering her alcohols, flaunting her pale red colour and often flashing the most bizarre labels. The hipster winemakers have flirted outright, presenting their tributes from old bush vines, while others are using her to lift their partners in red blends. And, with or without an L, a love affair with this once unfashionable variety has begun.


This is not the Cinsault I knew as Tassies, the first and only wine I ever drank as a young student at university. That was a workhorse variety, with very high yields which meant the wine was suitably cheap. Nor is it the Cinsault blended into many of Stellenbosch’s finest reds of the 60s and 70’s. This young version is something totally new, born from very old vines.

There are only 179 hectares of old Cinsault vines, 35 years or older, to be found in Paarl, Stellenbosch and the Swartland. Cinsualt’s ancestral name in South Africa was Hermitage and back in the day it was South Africa’s most planted variety. Hermitage was crossed with Pinot Noir to form the Pinotage offshoot of the family while Cinsault herself was discarded in favour of Cabernet and Shiraz, and by 2015 represented only 1,9% of total hectares planted. So totally out of fashion that in 2010 only 5 producers certified bottled Cinsault as a single variety, although within 5 years the number had risen to 28. Today the variety is quickly becoming the new hot date as young winemakers all look for part of the action.


And here’s what some of her admirers are saying:
“Cinsault is producing some really exciting things in the Cape, especially from old vines.  In the right hands, it can produce wines that are the equal of South African Pinot Noirs in terms of balance, vibrancy and sheer drinkability” Tim Atkin MW
“…a fabulous variety in its own right, able to make supremely drinkable red wines that are low in colour and alcohol.” Jamie Goode
“Here early picking, whole bunch and skin contact are making remarkably characterful, alluring wines – the type that one bottle simply isn’t enough.” Treve Ring
“…one of the reds to watch in 2016” Fiona Beckett
“…. It really feels real, unlike anywhere else. The varietal and the reformation.” Michael Godel
“…for this bridesmaid of the grape world to establish itself as a worthy contender for the title of South Africa’s signature red” Mark Pygott

And if you want to experience what all the excitement is about, here are some marvelous, dancing, singing models that are sure to seduce you:

Sadie Family Wines Pofadder 2014
Mt Abora Saffraan 2014
Waterkloof Seriously Cool Cinsault 2014
Badenhorst Ramnasgras  2014
BLANKbottle My Koffer 2012
Stellenrust Old Vines Cinsaut 2013
Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Cinsault 2014
Silvervis Cinsault 2014
Mullineaux Cinsault 2014
Radford Dale Thirst Cinsault 2015
Natte Valleij Cinsault 2013
Leeuwenkuil Cinsault 2015
Naudé Cinsault 2014
Kleine Zalze Cinsault 2014
The Blacksmith Bare Bones Cinsault 2014
Blackwater Hinterland Cinsaut 2014
Fairview Cinsault 2015
Eenzaamheid Cinsaut 2015
Boutinot Percheron Cinsault 2014
Boutinot Kindred Cinsault 2014
Die Plek Cinsault 2015


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