Delicious diversion

With this Rall Cinsault 2019 review I am still trying to #saveSAwine. Given all the problems faced by the South African wine industry over the past year, you should buy some of their delicious, high-quality wines to help drive exports and do your bit to #saveSAwine as well.

Rall Cinsault is made from old bush vines grown with no irrigation in iron-rich clay soils. Clay soils are normally not considered ideal for wine growing because they retain a lot of water and, we are told, vines ‘do not like wet feet’. In an unirrigated vineyard in the warm hills of Swartland this should not be a real problem.

Rall Cinsault is naturally fermented with indigenous yeasts and 50% whole clusters are used in the fermentation vats. Longtime readers will know that including stems in fermentation does not imbue the final wine with green flavours if the stems are ripe.

Rather, stems in a fermentation will make the final wine lighter in colour, lower in tannin and higher in acidity. Using them will also – especially if the stems are not fully lignified – very slightly dilute the final wine, resulting in a slight alcohol drop. Since this is of the order of 0.1-0.3% I wouldn’t worry about being cheated out of your booze! For the record the wine is 12.5%, that counts as ‘light’ in these enlightened times, but it is a perfectly reasonable level.

After fermentation the Rall Cinsault is transferred to large, old oak foudres. Old oak foudres are inert so add no flavour to the wine. The wine is allowed to settle in these for ten months then bottled with a minimal filtration.

To the Rall Cinsault 2019, Batman!

Rall Cinsault 2019Cinsault 2019, Rall

Rall Cinsault is blushingly light in colour.

The wine has lovely fruit on the nose. Fresh strawberries, red currants and raspberries. There is a hint of fruitcake spiciness too, which gives this Rall Cinsault 2019 slightly more dimension.

I say ‘slightly more dimension’, because that is pretty much all there is on the Rall Cinsault 2019 nose. There is no alcoholic warmth to it, no vanilla-y oak, only a suggestion of creamy earthy characters and that is it.

This relative simplicity is absolutely fine, I have no problems with it. Randall Grahm (of Boon Doon fame) describes Cinsault as ‘The Pinot of the Mediterranean’. Cinsault, like Pinot, is a fruity, high acid grape varietal.

Just as Pinot can be made in a profound, complex, structured style (think Grand Cru red Burgundy), so can Cinsault (eg. Ian Naudé Old Vines Series Cinsault); it can also be made in a light, quaffable form (eg. Bourgogne Rouge). It appears Rall Cinsault 2019 is made in the latter style.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making light, quaffable wines (as long as they are good). We need drinks for every occasion. If one is going punting on the Isis one needs an idoneous drink. Rosé is obviously out – almost all of them (with the exception of Pinot-based rosé, which includes fizz) are repulsive. Pimm’s is out because gin makes me projectile vomit. Why not a light, quaffable Cinsault?

When I saw the Rall Cinsault had a moderate alcohol level and learned that it was fermented with 50% whole bunches, I vaticinated that it would be in the light, easy drinking style, so I chilled it a little before The Editor and I started drinking it. It seems to have been the sensible thing to have done.

The slightly chilled palate has light, but perfectly delineated fruit, good acid levels and a lick of tannin. It is all in perfect harmony and most appealing – fun, indeed. Only an agelast would not enjoy such a delight to drink.

There is not much in the way of complexity; it more hints a being involute rather than going on to follow those hints up. So what? It is a good, well-made, damned-enjoyable drink that will not break the bank.

Since it is the end of summer in South Africa I urge all my South African friends to go and buy Rall Cinsault, rather than some mephitic rosé, to drink whilst it is still warm.

Similarly, summer approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, and since the first quality of wine is that it is red, get some stocks of this in so you can drink affordable quality wine during our spell of several warm days.

Lovely wine for uncomplicated enjoyment – especially if you can tell, and demand, good from, and rather than, bad.

The only thing I can criticise this wine for is not being bottled with a screw cap – then your excess bottles could well be in drinking quality up to the following summer as well.

#saveSAwine with this flirty little minx at Handford.