Leeuwenkuil Cinsault 2014

By , 19 June 2015



Hot to trot.

Hot to trot.

I’m firmly in the pro-Cinsau(l)t camp but after tasting the Cinsault 2014 from Swartland producer Leeuwenkuil which won the trophy for best niche red variety at this year’s Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show yesterday, I think there is a danger of pushing the variety too far, too fast.

The Leeuwenkuil is a smart enough wine – an appealing nose of red fruit and flowers while the palate shows lovely fruit concentration, bright acidity plus a slight and not unpleasant stalkiness on the finish.

In fact, it’s entirely likeable and at R110 a bottle from Wine Cellar, you can’t accuse of it of being over-priced but it’s not profound. Which causes me to wonder two things: Have we found the very best Cinsaut vineyards yet? and Does the variety perform better in a blend, whether with Cabernet Sauvignon or other Rhône varieties? I suspect the answers to these questions won’t be that difficult to discover but let’s not get carried away in the meantime.

Score: 91/100.

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6 comment(s)

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  • Tom Cannavan14 April 2017

    Just tasted this (we’re slow off the mark over here in the UK!) and really – really – enjoyed it. Whilst personally I’d struggle to see it as a trophy wine in absolute terms, I did love its effortless, unforced style, freshness and blend of a bit of serious grip and approachable fruit. I agree 100% with Angela that it’s a style that needs to be appreciated to save it being swamped by bigger and bolder wines.

  • Kyle Martin24 June 2015

    Hi Christian, Interesting article and comments. I agree with yours and LePlonk’s words. Cinsault does have its intrigue, but on its own lacks complexity and body. It does perform better in blends methinks- adding suppleness to Cab or Shiraz (especially some of those older Cabs), and then a nice earthiness and minerality to Rhone blends.

    In terms of production, it is the white wine equivalent of Viognier, which also boasts a few exceptional examples (Arendsig, Saronsberg), but is best enjoyed as a blended wine and doesn’t achieve the focus and complexity of other single white varieties.

    Cinsault is an interesting point- of- reference wine to make as a single- variety, and also as a very drinkable, ‘poor mans Pinot Noir’. I think that the market/ price gap Cinsault should strive to take is the R50.00- R120.00 range where Pinot Noir struggles to achieve same quality and price. It is very, very drinkable.

  • LePlonk19 June 2015

    CInsaut will never be complex. (No, even Pofadder isn’t profound).

    Never has been. Anywhere.

    So what to do with a very very good Cinsaut…

    Price it low, and score it 91. I think everyone wins.

    These are wines made for drinking. Beaujolais.

    I think R100 is well above what many plonk producers get, and if we could get more cheap but delicious and wonderfully drinking wines, that’s great!

    That’s where the massive scope for improvement in South African wine lies. If we could get the bajillion hectares of cinsaut made into wines like this, we’re all winning.

    But to make a great one… Well, good luck. Maybe Eben will do it. Good for him.

    If the wine world could step away from wanting to make profound wines, and make delicious wines…
    Leave the profundity to the few who actually farm vineyards for low yields..

    Besides, the only way the the one great cinsaut vineyard will make great cinsaut is by being so different from everything else…

    • Christian19 June 2015

      Hi LePlonk,

      Your points are very much valid – the measure of a great Cinsaut will necessarily be lower than that for a great Cab. That said, I think there’s a lot of ordinary Chenin Blanc for which excuses are made because it’s Chenin and proudly South African and not Sauvignon Blanc/generic dry white and I think we need to be cautious about making a similar mistake with Cinsaut as a red variety…

  • Angela lloyd19 June 2015

    I think you’re being a tad mealy-mouthed here, Christian. Let’s rather rejoice in wines that enjoy freshness, pure fruit, lower alcohols and that are satisfyingly different both in taste and style from the usual over-oaked, sweet, blockbusters. Is profundity everything? If you read my current WOSA blog, you’ll see I’m on the side of blends to provide greater complexity, possibly partnered with either cab or Rhone varieties.

    • Christian19 June 2015

      Hi Angela, Don’t get me wrong – I love the fruit purity and lightness that modern incarnations of Cinsaut seem to exhibit. All I’m saying is that in principle it would be desirable for a trophy winner to show complexity, too. I tasted the Cinsaut next to the majority of the top performers from this year’s Trophy Wine Show last night and the Morgenster White 2013 and Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2009 really stood out on account of their sophistication.

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