£21.50–£22, Berry Bros & Rudd, Philglas & Swiggot, The Old Bridge Wine Shop
If ever there was proof that warm climates can produce exciting, graceful, fresh reds at modest alcohol, this is it. And if I can give a second example: the same producer's Firs Vineyard Syrah (same price, Berry Bros). I've chosen the Cinsault because I love its brightness, lightness and persistence, its red berry, cherry, peppery spice and stony savoury flavours and its downy texture. But I also love the way Cinsault has come from being an underdog (for decades) to a rising star in just a few years, especially in the Cape, where young winemakers like Mick and Jeanine Craven (Australian and South African, respectively) seek out old, dry-grown bush vines and cooler sites. Their 2017 Cinsault comes from a block just 4km from False Bay and all their wines are from single vineyards in Stellenbosch. More than anything, they’re looking to produce wines, all single-variety, that express the place from which they come. They're not looking for power or super-ripeness but purity, precision and place, so they use natural ferments and neutral, large, old oak barrels. In their words, their winemaking is "hands off, while being very hands on", meaning they pay scrupulous attention while intervening as little as possible. Cinsault is good with herbs and Persian spice mixes and this would go with meat (lamb, pork) and lighter game birds, but it‘s also a match for savoury tarts, vegetable dishes (e.g. grilled red peppers) and dried and cured meats (e.g. bresaola, coppa or smoked duck breast).
Craven Cinsault 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa
£21.50–£22, Berry Bros & Rudd, Philglass & Swiggot, The Old Bridge Wine Shop