Open your mind (and #saveSAwine)

This review of Duncan Savage ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault 2019 is, in part, written to encourage you to purchase South African wine, drive exports of it, and so mitigate the existential threats the South African wine industry has suffered over the past year. Together we can #saveSAwine!

As I drank this Savage ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault, I indulged in a little suisection. I realised that until I had my second bottle of Ian Naudé’s Old Vine Cinsault just two years ago, if you had offered me a glass of Cinsault I would have replied in top Duke of Edinburgh style, “Big deal.”

Now, let us not mess about, Savage ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault is fine as – much as Ian Naudé’s Old Vine Cinsault is. Perhaps not a top Grand Cru Burgundy, with all their millennia of fiddling with vineyard boundaries and specific cultivars. However, these Cinsaults deliver enough quality to make them fulfil the requirements for ‘This is the reason we keep looking for new wines to drink’.

So my self-analysis left me a bit disappointed in myself. All this time I had been missing out on fine and, let us not dodge this, more affordable (than Grand Cru Burgundy, certainly) wine experiences that could have made me and those important to me more happy more often. Happier more frequently is something we could all do with.

Getting to the moral of this story, never be sniffy. If someone says, “Here, try this old vine, high density-grown, oak aged Chasselas!”, do not be the Duke of Edinburgh* and sniffily turn them down. You could be missing out on real interest, style and quality (and that has all of them).

Back to Savage ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault 2019. It is sold as a mono-varietal, and qualifies as such, but only 89% comes from dry farmed, 39-year-old Cinsault bush vines. There is 11% Syrah in it as well. I think I can detect it, but this is very quality Cinsault. Good! Quality Cinsault, as I have learned, is quality indeed.

The grapes for Savage ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault were fermented with 50% whole bunches and spent 4 weeks on their skins. After fermentation the wine was aged for almost a year in large, old foudres.

The use of these foudres seems common in South Africa and this, I feel, is a good thing. Not everything needs slathering in 100% new oak, as many more established New World winemakers seem determined to foist upon us in their wines. It tastes pretty boring and tiresome in the end.

Old oak does not add the vanillin character of new oak, but it does allow a similar mellowing and polishing of the wine that one gets, in a different style, with new oak – microxidation is responsible for this. No new oak also makes wines cheaper. As I buy the vast majority of my review bottles myself, all I can say about this is, “Hooray!”.

Let us get tasting, I promise I will try not to be aeolistic.

Follow the line Cinsault 2019, Duncan SavageFollow the line Cinsault 2019, Duncan Savage

‘Follow the line’ Cinsault is really anthine, roses and cherry blossom. There is also cherry fruit here and I suspect this is the Syrah showing on the nose.

Most of ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault’s fruit is of the red and small variety. Raspberries (with a touch of raspberry leaf greenness), red currants, lingonberries, that sort of fruit. It is all scrumptiously fresh and bursting with energy.

There is a refined earthy streak that makes ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault go very well with the 40% fat, Italian truffle crisps The Editor and I are finishing off before our dinner (not a whole bag in one go, oh no!). This also smells like it is going to be bastard-acidic.

It is not! ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault is lovely and fresh, certainly, with the energy and drive of just-picked fruit, but that fruit is in perfect harmony with the acidity.

The acidity is supportive of a brisk, but not aggressive, tannic structure that undoubtedly helped with its vigour by the Syrah. I think that adds a little pepper to the blend of flavours.

The synergy of fruit, tannin and acidity make me think this will age and improve for up to a decade, but it should provide pleasure and gain additional complexity throughout that period. This is such a pert and lively little coquette that I do not see it closing up into a shell at any point. ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault will be teasing and tempting whenever you pop it.

Duncan Savage makes better and better wine every year. I have not trailed ‘Follow the line’ Cinsault with the rabid enthusiasm I have followed ‘Girl next door’ Syrah, but this is easily the best I have had. Absolutely delicious and thoroughly thrilling; miss out at a cost to your happiness quotient!

Told you I would not be prolix.

#saveSAwine at Handford.


*Do not be the Duke of Edinburgh for, if no other reason, he is dead and so having less fun than you will have with old vine, high density-grown, oak aged Chasselas.

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