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Cinsault: South Africa’s new star from old vines

After years as a workhorse blending grape, now is the moment for South African Cinsault to shine as a premium wine in its own right. Tina Gellie speaks to producers about the rise of these lighter-style reds from ancient bushvines, and recommends 26 wines to try.

Once just an understudy to more noble French grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, South African Cinsault is finally having its time in the limelight.

Cinsault (also spelled Cinsaut) has its origins in Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France. Thanks to its ability to tolerate extreme temperatures, resist drought and disease, and give large yields, it quickly became an important variety in hot, arid wine regions – including South Africa.

Historians think it arrived in the Cape in the 1850s, under the name Hermitage. It wasn’t until almost a century later that ampelographers confirmed it was the same grape as Cinsault.

Scroll down for tasting notes of 26 South African Cinsault wines to try

Cinsault: 26 South African wines to try

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