If you’ve heard of cinsault (pronounced “San-so”), it’s probably as a blending grape. In France, cinsault is most commonly grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, where it serves as a blending grape. Known as “hermitage” in South Africa, cinsault is one of the parent grapes that was used to create that country’s signature varietal—pinotage.
While cinsault is not nearly as widely planted here in the U.S., the Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi, California, lays claim to having the oldest cinsault vines in the world, dating back to 1885.
With a limited supply of grapes, plots within the vineyard are in high demand. Big name wineries that source grapes from the vineyard include Turley, The Scholium Project, Bonny Doon and Michael David among many others. Several of these wineries are taking the unusual step of bottling cinsault as a single varietal wine. We had the pleasure of tasting some of these limited production wines, which are mostly available direct from the wineries or in select restaurants. The MICHAEL DAVID “Ancient Vines” Cinsault (Lodi) $20, is one of the few available online and is absolutely worth a try.
Photo by Allie_Caulfield, "2010-10-01 10-03 Südtirol 046 Meran, Tscherms, Waalweg"