Cinsaut, pronounced “Sin s’oo”, is a black grape from France, known in South Africa as Hermitage.

Characteristics
Cinsaut is a high yielding variety that needs green harvest in order to produce quality wine. The vine will not appreciate to be in a damp climate, as it then will rot easily.

On the contrary, it thrives in hot dry climates which is why it is widely planted in countries which offer those conditions.

The grape is quite aromatic, typically light, red fruit, which is why it most often is used for blending. Tannins are low, while acidity levels are medium to medium high, depending on growth place.

Cinsaut is used both for wine production and as table grape.

Wines
Varietal Cinsaut wines are very very rare. Instead you will find it to a large extent being used for blending, for example as part of the classic GSM blend of Southern Rhône, e.g. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

It is also one of thirteen (or eighteen, depending on how you count) grapes* that are allowed in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation.

Cinsaut is also often used for producing fresh rosé wines, both in France and in South Africa.

Food pairing
The rosé wine is nice to enjoy on its own, well chilled, on a warm Summer day. Serve it at 8-10°C/46-50°F.

If you decide to pair it with food, it will be nice with both chicken and salads. For this pairing, the suggested temperature will be slightly higher, 10-12°C/50-54°F, in order to emphasise the wine’s fruitiness.

Where is it grown?
Cinsaut is a grape that has decreased almost fifty percent between 2000 and 2010. This has taken place above all in southern France, in Languedoc-Roussillon, where it has been uprooted in favour of other, more popular grapes.

  • France 19.505 ha/48,198 ac, MPG rank 12
  • Algeria 7.550 ha/18,656 ac, MPG rank 2
  • Morocco 3.940 ha/9,736 ac, MPG rank 3
  • South Africa 2.052 ha/5,071 ac, MPG rank 11
  • Tunisia 842 ha/2,081 ac, MPG rank 4
  • Turkey 500 ha/1,236 ac, MPG rank 11

There are small plantings reported also from (presented in order of decreasing acreage): Chile, Italy, USA, Greece, Portugal, China, Argentina

History
The grape is likely to have originated somewhere in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France. Together with Pinot Noir it was used to create South Africa’s “own” grape, Pinotage in 1925.

*The original thirteen grapes that were allowed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape when the AOC system was introduced in 1935/1936 were:

  • Grenache
  • Syrah
  • Mourvèdre
  • Cinsault
  • Clairette
  • Vaccarèse
  • Bourboulenc
  • Roussanne
  • Counoise
  • Muscardin
  • Picpoul
  • Picardan
  • Terret Noir