From 131 rand, €13.95, £17.79, $16.99
I thought I was being terribly recherché by choosing a varietal Cinsault as Wine of the Week, but it turns out that this is no less than the sixth such instance. Not only that, but it's also the fourth time a wine made by Waterkloof has featured here, following Percheron Old Vine Cinsault and Circumstance Chenin Blanc as chosen by Jancis, and Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc picked by Tam.
Yet there is nothing predictable about the style of this wine. As its name suggests, this Cinsault is made for drinking chilled – in fact, their website specifies 14 ºC – and it works brilliantly at this temperature. Cinsault gets a bad rap for being tough and rustic, but this version displays no such ugliness. Rather, it is pale in colour, medium-bodied and with dainty tannins that stay perfectly smooth at cooler temperatures. A perfectly pretty duckling.
It also has an attractive, un-confected fruit flavour and a properly dry, savoury finish. The palate is generously complex – I wrote down floral, liquorice, aniseed and pepper in my tasting note – with modern, ripe fruit. The delicate balance is thanks at least in part to thoughtful winemaking: it is whole-bunch fermented without yeast additions, in a sort of carbonic maceration way, then pressed and finished in old, 600-litre French oak puncheons. It doubtless helps that the fruit comes from low-yielding 40-year-old bush vines, too.
Genres in wine are very well established, and rarely does something step out of these boundaries really succesfully. To achieve that with a much-maligned grape is even more admirable. This seems very much like a wine from the heart – as do several other Waterkloof wines. For example, if you can't get hold of the Cinsault, you can find something equally interesting and valid in the shape of their Circumstance Rosé, made from Mourvèdre. I tasted the 2014 vintage, which is a joyously moderate 12.5% alcohol, as pale as Provence rosé, and equally dry and satisfying.
Both are seriously cool, and seriously delicious.