Cinsault. Carignan. Mourvèdre.

It’s pretty easy to get a handle on the famous and ubiquitous grapes of the wine world. But these days some of the real treasure lies in the less well known grapes which offer both delicious surprises and great value.
In my old Oxford Companion of Wine from the 1990’s, edited by Jancis Robinson, Carignan was described as “the bane of the European wine industry … which has its work cut out to eradicate it… high in everything – acid, tannins, colour, bitterness – but charm and finesse”. Oh dear! What judgment.
Happily, today Carignan and Mourvèdre play central roles in many great wines from the south of France, while Cinsault plays an interesting supporting role.
Carignan’s former reputation is probably more about the poor practices of farmers than about the grape. Yes, it’s sensitive to powdery mildew. Which means it requires a lot of treatment if grown industrially and/or planted in the wrong place. Treatment would be mainly chemical to protect high yields. And when subsequently machine-harvested from chemically treated vineyards with a residual of mildew the grapes probably were pretty bad and would then be subject to carbonic maceration as well as all sorts of manipulation to try to mask the defects in the raw material.
Plant Carignan in the right place, farm it for health, with a reasonable yield of around 40 hl/ha, and it will produce a variety of delicious and often exciting wines, solo or as part of a blend.
On its own it can be full of wild black berry fruits, fig, savoury spice, meaty and earthy, a naturally cool acidity and fine, gently bitter tannins, all the elements of drinkability and which can come together in an elegant, very digestible way.
It’s found mainly the Languedoc-Roussillon as well as in the Southern Rhône. In the Costières de Nîmes, for example, it does much better to retain fruit freshness and ripen with lower degrees in the heat than does Grenache Noir. See the lovely wines from Clos des Boutes  a biodynamically farmed Domaine on the plateau of Bellegarde. 
Laurent Charvin has made the best Côtes du Rhône 2018 we’ve tasted, a fabulously digestible wine from a difficult year. It comprises (every year) around 5% Carignan.
Prior to the creation of the Vacqueyras Appellation in 1990 Carignan was defended strongly by our neighbours Domaine la Garrigue for inclusion. A few percent help to balance and bring complexity to the riches, sometimes excesses, of Grenache Noir and Syrah – although, sadly, few producers still grow it.
Mourvèdre is at home, in all senses, in Bandol and found all around the Mediterranean. It’s a more solid, dense, structured variety than the supple, fluid, more high-toned Carignan, more red fruit, wild Provençal herb, more leather and roast meat. So solid, it’s rarely used on its own in France. In Spain it’s known as Monastrell and somehow thrives inland from Valencia in the Jumilla region at high altitude to produce positively jammy but just fresh wines.
Cinsault grows in the same places as Carignan and Mourvèdre. It plays a role of adding freshness to blends. Aromatically similar to Grenache Noir, with red fruits, garrigue, floral notes, it ripens with less alcohol and softer tannins. It’s perfect for Rosé, and can add to the digestibility of Grenache Noir wines.
Being based in the south of France we feel fortunate in coming across wonderful examples of these grapes and blends. Here’s a recent selection.
Les Clos Perdus uses all three varieties in typically judicious and delicious moves. The Prioundo Cuvée adds 25% Cinsault to Grenache Noir both from the garrigue scented hills of the Corbieres. The Cinsault adds perfume, finesse and freshness. It’s a beautiful wine.
Les Clos Perdus Le Rosé is in effect pure Mourvèdre and one of our favourite Rosés. Complex and gastronomic yet very drinkable, it brims with aroma: strawberry fruit, toasted wild herbs, green and black olives; and posseses a vibrant vegetal citrussy acidity with fine tannins.
Les Clos Perdus Cuvée is a blend of Carignan and Grenache Noir which is terrific value, with tons of energy and spicy, confit red fruit.
In the Languedoc, Jeff Coutelou, one of the saviours of his particular region near Beziers from the march of chemical and industrial-organic mono-viticulture makes a lovely pure Cinsault Rosé, 5SO, without sulfites, that’s pure digestibility and lemon-infused strawberry fruit.
At Matassa in Calce, Tom Lubbe blends old Carignan and Mourvèdre to make a great wine called Ace of Spades, which expresses licorice, cumin, stinging nettle, black cherry and cassis (I got carried away with the fruit description), both juicy and tannic. Quite brilliant. Tom makes other wines from old Carignan.
Up in the hills in the Roussillon, Cyril Fhal of Clos du Rouge Gorge makes a pure old vine Carignan, of which there are never enough bottles to go round (and they’re expensive). He obtains incredible finesse from the grape.
In the hills of the Minervois, Romain Pion is a young grower who’s making pure Carignan wines quite different from those of the aforementioned. Romain’s wines are more pure fruit, with a vivid, floral freshness, seamless tannins, very fluid and digestible. In particular his L’Habit ne fait pas la Moine – the habit doesn’t make the monk (or don’t believe what they tell you about the grape).
We also discovered Romain’s friend and neighbour Benjamin Baudet making a couple of thousand bottles each of very fine, pure Carignan Cuvées, oaked and unoaked. Both super-fresh displaying black fruits and spice with great balance. Benjamin, a nature lover, makes his living as a mountain guide but loves to grow grapes to pursue his simultaneous calling as winemaker.
Back in Calce, Jean-Philippe Padié makes his elegant Petit Taureau from a blend of Carignan and Syrah with a bit of Mourvèdre sometimes. This is one of the most unusual Cuvées from the Roussillon given its poise, lightness, freshness and purity of fruit. You are forgiven for thinking you’re drinking Beaujolais or Bourgogne.
Jean-Philippe also makes a pure Carignan called Le Pacha that’s aged part in anfora, part in old oak, from vines planted between 1900 and 1920, that’s stunning, very pure, very fresh, intensely aromatic and silky.
In Bandol, Agnes Henry at Tour du Bon  bases her glorious Bandol Rosé on Cinsault for juiciness and floral aromas, while filling it out with Mourvèdre and Grenache Noir. It’s one of most complex Rosés we know and versatile with so many different dishes you could dine with it daily in the summertime.
At the same time, her classic, beautiful Bandol rouge is based on Mourvèdre, softened by Grenache Noir. And she makes a pure very old vine Mourvèdre, En-Sol, in anfora which tastes nothing like Bandol, or really anything you know, but is really one of the finest wines we’ve come across from the Mediterranean region; aromas of black and red cherry, cacao, sweet and savoury spice, it’s silky and fresh, refreshing and then comes a pronounced tannic finish. We’re not surprised that Can Roca Restaurant just shipped 300 bottles in May for their summer season.
Finally, a wine we picked up at the excellent Ballon 2 Rouge (translate: a glass o’ red) wine shop in St Remy de Provence; a rare bottle of Mas Jullien Rosé 2019. A blend of all three, Cinsault, Carignan and Mourvèdre, and is everything to give Rosé a good name, with plenty of juicy red berry fruit, snatches of wild herb, spice, citrus fruit, nothing too loud, plenty of ripe, digestible acidity and some gentle tannins. It was delicious and we drank it both as aperitif and a second night with a green chicken curry which wasn’t too much for the wine to cope with. It comes from the Terraces of Larzac north of Montpellier.
長雨とGo toがBackしたりの政府と、見えないウィルスで不安と苛立ち、晴れない気持ちは募るばかりかと思います。
ずっと気になっていた問題、マイナー品種? メジャー品種??? ・・についてお話をしたいと思います。 
メジャー品種って・・・? カベルネ・ソーヴィニヨン、ピノ・ノワール、シャルドネ、ソーヴィニヨンブラン・・  以上・・? なの?
残念ながら1990年代にはジャンシス・ロビンソンですらオックスフォードコンパニオン オブ ワイン(分厚い本)でカリニャンは酸味、タンニン、色合い、収量 全てが高い。
収量確保の為、樹間を狭く植えられていたり、そぐわない場所に植えられていた場合、特に多くの手入れが必要となります。 この為、ほとんどの場所では化学肥料を用いて多くの収量を確保し、安価なワインを作っていました。化学肥料を用いてもカビが残留しているぶどうが機械によって収穫された場合はよりワインは粗悪なものになります。
カリニャンと似た果実のキャラクターに加えて野生のハーブ、ガリーグ(プロヴァンス)そして革っぽさとローストした肉っぽさを感じます。 タンニンはよりふっくらして力強く酸味にもより丸みを感じます。フランスではムールヴェドール100%はあまり見かけることはありません。スペインではモナストレルと呼ばれフミーリャの標高の高い土地においてはジャミーですがフレッシュなワインを作ります。
Clos-des-Boutes (Sivain Boutee) Costières de Nîmes
Les Fagnes: カリニャン、シラー
Les-Clos Perdus  (Paul Old) Corbieres
Le Rosé : ムールヴェドール100% 
Prioundo : グルナッシュ、サンソーブレンド
Matassa(Tom Lubb) Calice, 
Ace of Spades  :カリニャン、ムールヴェドールによる新しいキュベ
Mas Coutelou (Jeff Coutelou) Languedoc
VdF 5 SO : サンソー100%
Clos du Rouge Gorge(Cyril Fhal) Roussillon
Romain Pion (Romain Pion) Minervois 
ミネルヴォアの丘の上でピュア カリニャンをつくる新しい生産者、彼のカリニャンは前述の彼らとは違いよりピュアでストレートな果実味と花のようなフィネス、スッとしたタンニンを感じます。特にキュベL’habit ne fait pas la moine は面白い1本 (日本未入荷)
Domaine Padie(Jean-Phillipe Padie ) Calice 
Petit Taureau: カリニャン、シラー (ヴィンテージによりムールヴェドールを少量ブレンド)
Le Pacha: カリニャン 100%
Domaine de la Tour du Bon (Agnes Henri) Bandol 
Bandol Rose: 美しいサンソーとムールヴェドール、グルナッシュのブレンド。アロマティックでジューシー、よくある軽い味のないプロヴァンスロゼとは全く逆の複雑味のあるロゼ。アペロからメインまで通して楽しめる味わい
Bandol Rouge : バンドールは元々赤ワインの産地です。 地中海沿岸の風を受け、塩っぽさすら感じるムールヴェドールとグルナッシュのブレンド。
En Sol : アニエスがムールヴェドール100%をアンフォラでつくる赤ワイン。深みのある果実とスパイスがシルキーなタンニンとまろやかで旨味のある味わい、カンロカの今夏のグラスワイン。
Mas Julien ,  Languedoc 
ラングドック、モンペリエ の北に位置するクラシックな正統派生産者、先月偶然に近くのワインショップでロゼを発見しました。生産本数は極小、恐らく輸出はされないかと思います。赤は長期熟成向き、
いよいよ、夏本番! コロナの自粛が続いてはいますが、是非、マイナー品種を見つけてそのポテンシャルを楽しんでもらいたいものです。