Cinsaut Noir or Cinsaut Noir, has been grown for many years in South Africa, although it was first known by the name ‘Cinsaut Noir‘, which is why its offspring is known as Pinotage (being a hybrid with Pinot Noir). Cinsaut Noir is a red wine grape which is more resistant to heat than other varieties, and is therefore one of the most popular grapes to be grown in warmer climates, and has been used by makers of Grenache and other wines to provide a softer, warmer flavour to what could otherwise be quite harsh tastes. Its popularity in South Africa is mainly down to its ability to blend well with other wines.
Cinsaut Noir is very popular with growers due to the large quantity of grapes that it produces, as much as 10 tons an acre in some areas. Although it can be grown as a table grape, it is not the most flavoursome as a grape, and most growers prefer to turn it into a wine. In fact, some have suggested that Cinsaut Noir is being ‘over-cropped’, to little purpose other than as a mixer for other wines, and it has lost considerable respect from wine experts due to its over-use in wine blends.
Cinsaut Noir is still very widely grown in South Africa, being second only to Cabernet Sauvignon, and indeed before the 1990s it was the most popular red grape variety to be grown in South Africa. Until 1925 it had been grown and used for wine in the country, but in that year it was hybridized with Pinot Noir to produce the unique Pinotage, one of the country’s favourite varieties of wine. The wine that Cinsaut Noir produces is still preferred to Pinotage when it comes to creating and mixing blends, and this is why it is still such a popular grape among the wine-growing regions.
Cinsaut Noir makes a good blending wine by virtue of its depth of flavour. Unlike some mixers, which are designed to be used as an undercurrent by the blender, Cinsaut Noir has a character of its own which is clearly noticeable in any blends. This taste usually considered to be rich and rather meaty, with a strong taste which combines roses and almonds. This makes it suitable for blending with rose wines, which often need its addition in order to give a good flavour. Partly due to its aptness as a mixer, Cinsaut Noir is rarely used as a single varietal in South Africa.
This does not mean that all South African Cinsaut Noir growers are going to allow their grapes to be used as a blend. Some estates are now using the Cinsaut Noir as a wine on its own, allowing the full texture of the grape the room to shine. Although it is not a very strong grape on its own, being thick rather than sophisticated, the wine itself has a fine and smooth texture, which with careful blending (with black fruits and mild spices) can give the wine a good body and taste which drinkers will come back for again and again.