From £14.95 Wine Society, $19.99
We have a thing about Cinsault on JancisRobinson.com. This is the seventh varietal Cinsault we have chosen as a wine of the week, and it has featured as a major ingredient in many more. But we have never, as far as I can remember and to my shame, had a Lebanese wine of the week.
The dark-skinned, heat-resistant southern French vine variety Cinsault, sometimes spelt Cinsaut, has a long history in Lebanon and has been grown in the 1,000-m high Bekaa Valley, Lebanon’s prime grape-growing region (and now, tragically, home to hundreds of thousands of refugees from across the Syrian border) since the mid nineteenth century. The most famous Lebanese wine internationally, Chateau Musar red, is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault.
Dom de Tourelles Cinsault 2014 Bekaa Valley is made entirely of Cinsault, from 70-year-old vines. It’s made and aged in fashionable concrete with fashionable ambient or indigenous yeast – so think of it as the essence of Lebanon. Even though it’s only 13% alcohol, it tastes more powerful than, for example, the more fleeting Cinsaults of the Languedoc (where the variety probably originated). The nose is distinctly meaty with broad, dusty fruit overlaid by dried-spice flavours. I found it long and satisfying, combining the juiciness of the variety with the heat of Lebanon. Earthy but clean, it’s admirably persistent. I thought it definitely Lebanese but not as funky nor syrupy as some of the Musar reds.
I see we have 11 tasting notes on wines from this historic producer, founded by Frenchman François-Eugène Brun in 1868. This one, on the 2014 Cinsault, is the most enthusiastic so far. For what it’s worth, I gave this very distinctive, satisfying red a score of 16.5 out of 20 but suggest that you drink it sooner rather than later. It would stand up well to spicy food, I think.
In the UK it’s £14.95 from The Wine Society and it’s also available from quite a variety of US retailers according to winesearcher.com.
The picture (I'm a sucker for pink and red) is one of many on the Domaine de Tourelles website www.domainedestourelles.com where the virtues of Arak Brun, the aniseed-flavoured Lebanese spirit, are also sung .