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Grape 57: Cinsaut

Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah

Adopt a Parent, Please
Think which grape you would want to adopt. Riesling? Cabernet? Maybe even Muscat, the original grape of grapes? Chances are Cinsaut isn’t the grape you’re adopting. You’re descended from a noble, regal, princely grape, not Cinsaut, not Bastardo (an actual grape!) – a fashionable, avuncular grape with name recognition. Sorry, South Africa – you just adopted Cinsault. No backsies.

All my legal advice comes from wine blogs
But Cinsaut is a PARENT grape, not a CHILD grape – it can’t be adopted! Babies are for adoption, children are for adoption. Parents are not for adoption. Wrong. Parents are for adoption too, and Cinsaut is your adopted parent, South Africa.

Are You My Mother?
South Africa loves to shine the spotlight on its famous grape – Pinotage – because the grape is truly an African grape, having been created in South Africa in 1925. And because Pinot is so popular, Pinotage is a great name to have on your bottle. Pinot, he’s so hot right now.

Photo Credit to Red Bubble (they sell t-shirts of this?)

Suffix Shame
But shhhhhh, don’t mention that -tage suffix hanging off the end of Pinotage. That’s the part you’re not supposed to notice. Because -tage comes from Hermitage, which is what 1920s South Africa called Cinsaut. And Cinsaut isn’t popular or really, really ridiculously good looking.

Clash of Consonants
Cinsaut grows all over the cheapest part of France, down in the south where even the name is meant to discourage wine consumers: Languedoc-Roussillon. No American has ever pronounced that correctly. It’s just a disaster of consonants.

Halfling Cinsaut
And Cinsaut doesn’t stand on its own – producers blend it in with other grapes (usually Grenache and Carignane) to make balanced, smooth wines. Think of it as the halfling minstrel at your D&D party – it’s not exactly Cinsaut leading the charge into the dragon’s lair.

African Wine Denoument
In a strange twist however, Cinsaut is the perfect grape for adoptive parenthood in South Africa. It performs spectacularly in drought conditions and Algeria loaded up on Cinsaut for exactly that reason. So in a strange twist, Pinotage – that hallmark African grape – owes a very large debt to its adopted African adult Cinsaut since Cinsaut hails from (among others) Algeria, nicely alliterative with Africa. Welcome Home Adopted African Dad!

Adopt This Wine Producer
Andre Brunel is the grandfather who makes this wine. Not sure exactly if he actually is a grandfather but he’s eminently adoptable if he’s up for the role. Just have a look at his twinkling eyes and it’s easy to see how Lucien (co-owner of the estate) fell in love with this man. Maybe wine had something to do with it, maybe not – but he has a lot to teach in the fine art of twinkling eyes.

Rhone in The Cities
Word on Adopted Grandpa Andre is that he makes exceptional Chateauneuf du Pape, probably the most famous (and $$$!) of the wine villages scattered along the French Rhone valley – check out the long blue stretch of France on the map where the buffalo rhone. Fortunately, Grandpa Andre also makes really good cheaper wine that we halfling minstrels can down with Travail food and laughter when visiting family and adopted family in The Cities.

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Very smooth, almost velvety texture. Light black fruit and light spices – nothing too overpowering. Worked really well with dishes from seafood to lamb.

Detail Up!
2008 Andre Brunel from Cotes du Rhone, France (somewhere on that blue line). Sadly, the only Buzz (RIP 2010-2011) for this wine comes from one wine store in Asheville that identifies the grape as 75% Grenache, 15% Cinsaut, and 10% Syrah, from 40 year old vines. No corroboration possible on the internets but my memory recalls this a blend with Cinsaut and others so money’s on the table that this is the wine.

Random Googles:
* Cinsaut is the key grape in Lebanon’s most famous wine, which commands prices equal to small vehicles (or three months worth of antifreeze for my brother’s beater).
* Amusing yet long treatise compares (fairly convincingly) Cinsaut to Posh Spice. Warning – Posh Spice is pretty NSFW.
* Robert Parker, lawyer turned wino, might already have dibs on adopting Andre Brunel. Certainly sounds like it from all the praise.

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