Cinsaut (or Cinsault) is a high yielding, workhorse red wine variety. It is also known in Australia as Blue Imperial and Oeillade.
Other synonyms include Black malvoisie, Boudalès, Bourdalès, Bourdelas, Calabre, Cinq-saou, Cinqsaut, Cinsaut, Cuvillier, Espagne, Espagnen, Espagnol, Gros de Lacaze, Gros marocain, Hermitage, Malaga, Malaga kék, Marocain, Marroquin, Marrouquin, Maurange, Mavro kara melki, Milhau, Milhaud du Pradel, Morterille, Morterille noire, Negru de Sarichioi, Ottavianello, Ottaviano, Pampous, Papadou, Passerille, Pétaïre, Picardan noir, Piquepoul d'Uzès, Plant d'Arles, Plant de Broqui, Poupe de crabe, Prunaley, Prunelas, Prunella, Prunellas, Prunellas noir, Salerne, Senso, Sinso, Ulliaou
How does a single grape variety get so many synonyms? Well there are two factors in play here.
First, the variety has been around for about four centuries.
Secondly it is planted widely in traditional warm wine regions throughout Southern France, Spain, Italy, Morocco and Algeria, as well as in California, South Africa and Australia in the New World.
Over time and space across language boundaries and generations the names gradually evolve. Formal bureaucratic rules for nomenclature are fairly new.
In South Africa the variety was once the leading red variety. In that country it was used as a parent in a crossing with Pinot Noir for breeding Pinotage.
Cinsaut is often used in blends with other Rhone varieties. It is a permitted but sparingly used variety in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Here are two differing opinions...
This variety, according to Robin Bradley in his Australian Wine Pocketbook of 1978, is
"used, mostly in South Australia, to lend mediocrity to otherwise good wine"
Jancis Robinson in Wine Grapes offers a more positive assessment
Underrated Mediterranean-loving variety making characterful rose and flirtatious reds
Despite this bad press, this variety is still commonly used as blending material, probably in more wines than mention the fact on their labels, but there are a couple of exceptions.
I have long been a fan of Morris Wines Cinsaut, sold for many years as Blue Imperial, but now bearing is more correct name.
Foggo Wines in McLaren Vale have had success with a Grenache Shiraz Cinsaut.
D'Arenberg's Cenosilicophobic Cat is a blend of Sagrantino with about 9% Cinsaut.
The Cinsaut grape variety makes quite good rose either on its own or as a component of blends .
This dozen contains 2 bottles from each of six different producers in several regions. It gives you a good overview of the styles of Australian Tempranillo.
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