I’ve always had a soft spot for Cinsault (also spelled Cinsaut), especially old-vine Cinsault. A native of Southern France, this black grape variety is similar to Grenache in that it delivers soft, fruity, aromatic reds. It’s most often used in blends or to make perfumed all-Cinsault rosés. But old-vine Cinsault can produce distinguished reds all on its own.
The 2009 Cinsault from Bonny Doon Vineyard proves the point. It’s made exclusively from Cinsault, but blended from two different sites. The Ca’ del Solo vineyard, near Monterey, accounts for 60% of the blend, while the old-vine Woock vineyard in Central California contributes 40%.
“In 2009, the Ca’ del Solo vineyard gave us a restrained, elegant Cinsault, while the 100-year-old vines of the warmer-climate Woock vineyard, in Lodi, yielded a wine with tremendous concentration,” says winemaker Randall Grahm.
All in all, the 2009 Cinsault is an absolutely gorgeous wine.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Cinsault
Producer: Bonny Doon Vineyard
Grapes: 100% Cinsault
Vineyards: 60% Ca’ del Solo vineyard, 40% Woock vineyard
Decant for 1 hour before serving.
As the Bonny Doon Vineyard 2009 Cinsault cascades in the decanter, playful purple hues bounce off the glass. The wine looks vibrant, alive, enticing!
On the nose, voluptuous aromas of dark cherry, blackberry and spice emanate from the glass, all of them expanding and deepening when you take a sip. Red plums and pomegranate join the dark fruits with flawless synergy. Then more layers are revealed: tingly black pepper, anise, vanilla and violets.
All that fruitiness and perfume is balanced with good acidity, supple tannins and a bit of earth. The wine is youthful yet it’s deep, concentrated and complex. Nothing is out of place.
My first thought was that the 2009 Cinsault is extraordinarily food friendly and would pair well with a myriad of dishes. But in an instant, I knew it would be just right with these intensely flavorful grilled vegetable napoléons with spicy scallion vinaigrette.
The deep, concentrated fruit notes were a lovely backdrop to the smokiness of the dish. The wine also picked up on the cayenne pepper in the vinaigrette and turned up the volume on the heat just a tad.
Lastly, the medium-plus bodied Cinsault matches the weight of the dish exactly. The napoléons might be packed with flavor, but they certainly are not a rich, weighty main course. Both wine and dish deliver loads of flavor and nuance without being too heavy – a thrilling way to drink and eat.
It’s not hard to be a fan of Bonny Doon Vineyard. The wines they make are consistently outstanding, and a great value. But the 2009 Cinsault is really special. It’s a wine I want to come back to over and over again. I don’t think I could ever tire of it. Now I’ve just got to dream up some more tasty morsels to pair with it.