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.