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Cinsault: It’s not just a backing singer

Regarded for decades as simply a useful blending grape, is hardy Cinsault finding favour again? Alistair Cooper MW feels its wines are deserving of a reappraisal…

It is often said that wine trends are cyclical, mirroring the fickle beast that is the fashion industry. Wine styles and grapes come and go, just as flares and beards just keep on coming back.

And if ever there were a grape that has experienced a wild swing in its fortunes over the past century, it’s Cinsault. Once widely planted, then much maligned and brutally grubbed up, this inherently hardy and tenacious grape has experienced a welcome mini-renaissance in recent years.

Scroll down for Alistair Cooper MW’s pick of the best Cinsault buys

This article appears in the September 2018 issue of Decanter magazine, on general sale from 1 August, but is available online exclusively to Premium members.

Historically Cinsault has played a pivotal, yet often understated role in the development of several leading wine industries. These include France, South Africa, Lebanon and, to a slightly lesser degree, Chile.

Intrinsically Cinsault is a drought-resistant grape, capable of tolerating extreme temperatures. Coupled with this it is a robust variety, largely disease resistant in warmer climates.

When you add to the mix its extraordinary ability to yield copiously, its attraction to wine-growers becomes clear – particularly given the time period in which its popularity peaked.


See Alistair Cooper MW’s pick of the best Cinsault buys

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