2017 Typic Cinsault-Syrah Pays D'OC
This week's wine is another Trader Joe's bargain find. It's a Cinsault-Syrah rose blend. It's 80% Cinsault and 20% Syrah. I first came across a Cinsault rose a few months ago, and I've been hooked ever sense. Cinsault is popularly grown in France, Algeria, and South Africa. It's known for its heat tolerance and drought resistance. In France, it's mostly grown in the Rhone Valley, where the climate is hot and windy. It can be a tricky grape to grow well, because it's so weather resistant, Cinsault is known to produce a high yield, but when it does so it's not of the best quality. When it grows without limit, it produces a lot of grapes with minimal flavor in each grape. To grow quality Cinsault grapes, the grapes must be limited and maintained to only grow about a third of the volume that it naturally would. This concentrates the level of flavor in each grape and results in a higher quality wine. When it's not limited, Cinsault is generally used as a filler or table wine. It's generally blended, rather than sold as a single-grape wine, with Syrah and Grenache being popular grapes to blend it with. It's also well known for being cross-bred with Pinot Noir to create the Pinotage grape. In South Africa Cinsault is commonly known as Hermitage, so the name Pinotage comes from blending the names Pinot Noir and Hermitage, just as the two grapes were bred together to create the Pinotage grape.
While I had this varietal as a rose, it's also very common as a regular red wine. In areas outside of France it's generally produced as a red wine, and even within France it's a mix of whether it's produced as red of rose. As a red, it's generally fruit forward and medium bodied, with some musky and meaty notes on the back end. The character of a Cinsault wine can be deeply affected by the tools used to produce it, it easily takes on notes from the variety of oak barrel that it's made in.
This wine smelled very light and delicate to me. I got notes of citrus, strawberry, a light floral note, and just a hint slatey minerality. The taste of the wine matched the scent. When I sipped it I got strong notes of grapefruit and strawberry on the front end, along with a delicate light floral note and a hint of nectarine. On the back end I got notes of light minerality that balanced out the fruity and floralness well. It tasted just as light and delicate as it smelled.
I drank this wine while I snacked on some chicken potstickers, and I don't think it was the best pairing. The wine was so delicate that it got overwhelmed by the soy sauce and the other salty flavors in the potstickers. It would go better with a flaky light fish, like halibut, or with a light summer salad, maybe arugula with strawberries, goat cheese, and a poppyseed dressing.