Cinsault  Grape Variety

Cinsaut or Cinsault (pronounced "san-so") is a red wine grape, whose heat tolerance and productivity make it important in Languedoc-Roussillon and the former French colonies of Algeria and Morocco. It is often blended with grapes such as Grenache and Carignane to add softness and bouquet.[1]

Wine description lighter, brighter color than most of the heavier red wines, sweet, soft taste --strawberry-cherry fruit character, spice on the finish
Food pairing classic bistro fair, creamy blue cheese, strawberries, Mediterranean cuisine 
Origin France
Notable regions Languedoc-Roussillon, France, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon
Notable wine(s) Chatea Musar (Lebanon), Ostuni Ottavianello, Cinsaut, Dry Creek Valley 

Cinsaut has many synonyms, of which perhaps the most confusing is its sale as a table grape called 'Oeillade', although it is different from the "true" Oeillade which is no longer cultivated. In South Africa, it was known as "Hermitage", hence the name of its most famous cross Pinotage.


Cinsault appears to be an ancient variety that may have originated in the Herault, but could equally have been brought by traders from the eastern Mediterranean.

Distribution and Wines


Cinsaut is popular in Algeria for its drought resistance, and is used to make large volumes of wine.


Cinsaut is grown under a variety of names such as Black Prince, Blue Imperial, Oeillade and Ulliade


Cinsaut is the fourth most widely-planted grape variety in France, and is especially important in Languedoc-Roussillon.


Known as Ottavianello, there is one tiny DOC devoted to Cinsaut - Ostuni Ottavianello, with a total production of less than 1000 cases.[2] However, Cinsaut has long been used in Puglian blends, and has begun to attract the attention of winemakers interested in reviving old varieties.[3]


Cinsaut is an important component in the blend of Lebanon's most famous wine, Chateau Musar.


As in Algeria, Cinsaut is popular in Morocco for its drought resistance.

South Africa

A lot of Cinsaut is grown in South Africa much of which is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. It holds a special place in the country's viticulture along side Pinot Noir as one of the parents of Pinotage.


Some Cinsaut is planted in California as Black Malvoisie.

Vine and Viticulture

The vine can produce heavy crops, but wines are much better if yields are controlled. Cinsaut is very drought resistant but can be susceptible to disease, so appreciates a dry climate. It produces large cylindrical bunches of black grapes with fairly thick skins.


  1. Robinson, Jancis Vines, Grapes & Wines Mitchell Beazley 1986 
  2. Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestale, Banca Dati Vini DOC, DOCG :: Ostuni Ottavianello(Italian)) 
  3., Accademia dei Racemi
  4. Maul, E.; Eibach, R. (1999-06-00). "Vitis International Variety Catalogue". Information and Coordination Centre for Biological Diversity (IBV) of the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE), Deichmanns Aue 29, 53179 Bonn, Germany. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
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