- Tamlyn Currin, jancisrobinson.com
For a while, we’ve felt that Cinsault’s moment in the sun has been long overdue. Seen primarily in the south of France as a variety best suited to making rosé or as an enlivening addition to red wine blends, Cinsault just never seemed to get the spotlight. Even in Lebanon, where Cinsault sometimes took center stage in a blend, it was frequently overwhelmed by the more aggressively flavored Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Luckily for us, Faouzi Issa feels the same about Cinsault as we do, and at first taste, we knew that Domaine des Tourelles was the perfect fit for our portfolio.
What is it about Cinsault that has us excited? As a variety, it is perfectly adapted to heat and drought. In its native France, it tends to be over-productive but in its adopted home of the Bekaa Valley, the conditions are perfect to keep its vigor in check. When fully ripe it retains remarkable floral aromatics and delicate but forthright red fruit flavors. Alcohol levels are moderate for a Mediterranean red variety and it preserves a high level of acidity. Yet despite all these characteristics, it also has a tremendous ability to age gracefully. Not only does Faouzi Issa know of Cinsault’s potential, but he has both old vines of Cinsault on hand, and the intuitive confidence to let it express itself naturally by fermenting it, undisturbed, with indigenous yeasts in his family’s ancient concrete tanks and aging it only in well-seasoned French oak barrels. If any single Cinsault could establish the future of this variety, it would be Faouzi’s Vieilles Vignes Cinsault.