Week 34 – Cinsault

We tasted: De Martino Old Vines Cinsault, Itata, £11.99

Tasting Notes

Emma says: “I’ve been looking forward to this week because I knew exactly which wine I wanted us to taste. It is actually quite rate to find a 100% Cinsault wine but I have fortunately found my ultimate one when visiting a favourite Chilean producer De Martino three years ago.

This is a family business that has been making wine for generations but the younger clan headed up by Sebastian and winemaker brother Marco are now championing a return to old traditions. Sebastian is mad about buying up long forgotten plots of vines in overlooked regions like Itata and Maule where the vines are hundreds of years old. He took me on a memorable visit in tropical downpours where we drank this wine standing under a tin roof shivering. I remember thinking if the wine tasted that good in those conditions it had to be great. So let’s see if Andy agrees.

Given it’s still pretty warm in London right now we decided to chill our wine, which I also thought was fitting because it is quite a light bodied red which really suits being chilled. To the first smell it had that gorgeous scented dark cherry character with a hit of farmyard and smoky pencil lead, giving it a classic European charm. If I was tasting it blended I don’t think I’d ever think of Chile, but Itata is quite cold and wet which is why these wines can have a more restrained style. To taste it was just so light and elegant it sort of danced on the tongue, the tannin texture being really delicate. The fruit is slightly cassis but also with a mellow cherry flavour and a mild herbal freshness. The acidity feels nicely lifted but not sharp. To sum it up it really is a pretty wine.

Onto potential food matches, I would say this is a great red to go with food where a heavy red would dominate. The light tannins mean it would work really nicely with fish like salmon and could also work with curries. I think it would also be one to substitute for dishes that I would normally match with Pinot Noir, like mushrooms, game birds or white meats.”

Andy says: “My first sniff of this made me think of vinegar, which is never a good thing. But, the wine was fresh out of the fridge, and maybe it was a trick of the temperature as it soon blew off.

I also got a bit of leather sofa, which is a bona fide wine tasting thing to say. The first tasting was also disappointing, very thin, very light, not much to talk about at all. Downhearted, I logged in and started building this page, finding and cropping the images etc.

Some ten minutes had passed and the second taste was much different. It was full of character and full of black fruit flavours, blackberry, blackcurrant etc, even a bit Ribena-y. Lesson learned, don’t over chill your reds. This is a lovely summer drinking red.”

Buying guide

Cinsault is a red grape from France, it was often used in blends to bulk out a wine because it is high yielding. We are going to seek out a 100% Cinsault from old vines, typical countries that do this are France, South Africa or Chile. These are quite rare so we’d recommend buying any one you can find.

4 thoughts to “Week 34 – Cinsault”

  1. Cinsault is a wine I’ve not tasted on its own before. Fortunately, and by chance, I bought a bottle of the same De Martino Old Vines Cinsault 2016. It was a wonderful surprise; I absolutely loved it.

    Emma’s description is pretty much perfect and I can’t add much. But here goes.

    It was very, very light red. One of the lightest I think I’ve seen. More of a deep pink. Given the light colour I was surprised that the nose was relatively bold. Sharp, fresh sour cherries and blackcurrants with a slight smokey hint.

    I also tried it chilled and I found it absolutely lovely. Very fresh with a nice light body. Beautifully balanced – dry, but in a subtle way without any overbearing sharpness, and delicate tannins. Restrained, subtle flavours of blackcurrant, over-ripe strawberries and a very slight herbal twang. The feel in the mouth was gorgeously smooth.

    This is one of my favourites so far. So elegant and eminently drinkable. A real discovery. I must buy more!

  2. Hi Jason, I agree Pinot is that sort of grape I found later in my wine journey because it is more subtle and it is now my favourite and I find myself getting more into other light reds like Etna Rosso or even Beaujolais. Cinsault really worked for me this week for that reason too…Cabernet next week will be an interesting contrast!

  3. Wine -LA CINSO, Cotes Du Brian, Domaine Anne Gros et Jean-Paul Tollot, 2015 (Lea & Sandeman £18)
    Bottle Says – Nothing

    I’m pretty sure that I’ve never tried Cinsault on it’s own before, so I have been looking forward to this all week!

    The wine was deep purple in colour. On the nose, the initial impression is of black stone fruits and blackberries, with a hint of forest floor and leather, with much fainter notes of moss, violets and truffles. There was a gorgeously smooth mouthfeel; initially low in tannins, but not quite ‘silky’; it retained a lot of robust character. The main flavours here are black cherry, liquorice and lots of leather, with a slightly more tannic finish. It went really well with Pink Floyd’s Division Bell.

    I am really enjoying trying these single varietal wines; tasting the ‘building blocks’ that more popular blended wines are made from is a really good exercise in understanding the relationships of grapes/climate/country/tradition etc. At the back end of last year, when I decided to change tack, and to approach wine via the grape rather than the region, one of the wines that impressed me most was Pinot Noir, a grape I’d not really bothered with too much previously. I really liked the ‘lightness’ of it, compared to the heavier reds I had always preferred, and its versatility when I tried examples from around the world, made me love it even more.
    To extend the educational aspect of wine (come on, that’s why we drink it) I usually order one or two extra bottles of wine that I’m not overly familiar with when I order wine, and with this order I added on a couple of bottles of Tavel and Clarete, which take the ‘light reds’ category of wine to a whole new level, and even blur the boundaries between red and rosé.

    Cinsault is another wine to add to the favourites list; I really enjoyed this one.

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