Cinsaut Red Wine Variety

Cinsaut (or Cinsault) is a high yielding, workhorse red wine variety.  It is also known in Australia as Blue Imperial and Oeillade.

Cinsault red wine varietyBy Marianne Casamance (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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 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

What they Say about Cinsaut

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"

The quote on the right show that his opinion is not shared by Jancis Robinson.

Cinsaut in Australia

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 on its own makes, or as a component of blends quite good rose.

  • Bullers Calliope Rutherglen
  • Chambers Rosewood Rutherglen
  • Clonakilla Canberra
  • Cradle of Hills McLaren Vale
  • D'Arenberg McLaren Vale
  • Foggo Wines McLaren Vale
  • Happs Margaret River
  • Kabminye Wines Barossa Valley
  • Lake Moodemere Rutherglen
  • Massena Wines Barossa Valley
  • Morris Rutherglen
  • Murray Street Vineyard Barossa Valley
  • Quarry Hill Wines Canberra
  • Ruggabellus Barossa Valley
  • Shadowfax Vineyard and Winery Geelong
  • Shobbrook Wines Barossa Valley
  • Smallfry Wines Barossa Valley
  • Spinifex Barossa Valley
  • Yangarra Estate McLaren Vale

Learn More about Grape varieties

De Long's Wine Grape Varietal TableDe Long's Wine Grape Varietal Table

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Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz

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