CINSAUT December 31, 2021 11:30

A delicious Rhône grape variety.

Cinsaut vines have been in California for centuries. Until recently known by the synonym Black Malvoisie. Before the 1970’s  most grape varieties were mixed and blended. Cinsaut was not used for a stand-alone wine. You never heard the name. Varietal wines were uncommon.  

I made my first batch of cinsaut in 1991 with the intent of blending, as was the norm. When I tasted my 100% batch I fell in love immediately. It was so beautiful and delicious. That wine deserved to stand alone as a varietal. Now I have been making 100% varietal cinsaut for 33 years. It has become an old friend to me and many of my customers.  Every vintage has been consistently spectacular. The grape has flavors and balance that are compatible with my traditional hands-off winemaking practices. 

My grapes come from two Dry Creek Valley vineyards. One is 65 year old head pruned vines on 2 acres of red bench soil. The other, 33 year old vines on 1 acre of rocky hillside soil. Clusters have juicy, distinctively large, oval berries that are dusty purple color. Being well balanced with good acidity and soft tannin make for a delicious wine.

Cinsaut is not a common variety. Only 10 acres are planted in Sonoma County. This compares to 12,720 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in Sonoma County.

  Classic Cinsaut grape cluster.

The wine is delicious. I say "beautiful". Cinsaut is a friendly wine. It approaches you with lush fruit aromas and with a sip brings on complexity of more red fruit flavors. Soft restrained tannins and crisp acids lead to a long soft finish with a little nutmeg spice. This character allows you to pair the wine with a wide range of foods, from vegetarian to fish to steak.

Pair with: roast turkey, summer fruit salad, cambozola cheese, pasta primavera, BBQ chicken, spring roles, eggplant parmigiano, salmon, hummus, halibut, quail, guinea fowl, duck comfit, samosas, pizza, red curry, matar paneer, squab, ribeye steak with baked potato

Cinsaut or Cinsault

You will see the grape name most commonly spelled two different ways; Cinsaut and Cinsault. The government label approval for my first bottling was rejected because of my Cinsault spelling. I had already printed the label so I was lucky to get a one-time dispensation. I was instructed by the authorities not to use this spelling again.

  My first Cinsault label from 1991

So I now use the spelling "cinsaut" to comply with TTB regulations. TTB is the federal agency that governs wine in the USA. Every wine label in the country must be approved and certified by this agency.

TTB has a comprehensive list of allowed grape variety spelling. This is the section of that list that includes cinsaut. 

No matter what the spelling. This grape makes a beautiful wine.

You can view my current release cinsaut wines at Frick Wine Shop