Winery: Somerset Vineyard & Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Cinsaut
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: David Raffaele
How They Describe It
Light in body but heavy in personality, with seductive aromas of strawberry, sawdust and violets. Deceptively full and creamy mid-palate, with candied red fruit, caramel and a dash of peppery zest.
How I Describe It
This is one of those wines where looks are very deceiving. The Somerset 2018 Cinsaut is clear and relatively pale, with a ruby red hue indicative of a younger wine. Don’t be deceived by the paleness, though. This wine has a lot going on.
Even before your nose reaches the glass, a plume of sweetly ripened raspberry and boysenberry, dark cherry, candied strawberry, and juicy red plum burst upward. Vanilla pastry and a touch of cedar mingle with hints of eucalyptus. Cinnamon aromas on the finish suggest the first sip will be very interesting.
As the Somerset 2018 Cinsaut’s flavors materialize on your tongue, the unmistakable essences of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg spice point toward something unusual in most Rhône varietals: spiced ginger bread! The fruit flavors come across as ripe and rich, making the latter seem almost like a pie crust, covering an amalgam of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, a bit of cranberry, and orange zest. Cream and bread dough mix with a touch of charred wood on the finish.
Make no mistake, despite the ripe fruitiness of this wine, the Somerset 2018 Cinsaut is dry. At 14.1% ABV, alcohol is somewhat high, but that heat is tempered by medium acid and medium tannin. These along with the creamy mouthfeel gives the wine an overall medium-plus body. Flavor intensity if medium-plus, with a spicy medium finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
A little context is necessary when writing about Somerset Vineyard & Winery. The property switched ownership in 2018, when brothers Kurt and John Tiedt renamed the winery from Keyways to Somerset.
Somerset’s winemaker, David Raffaelle, comes with the pedigree of a UC Davis Viticulture and Enology degree, and over a dozen years of experience in Temecula vineyards.
Why is this important? Well, in 2019 I reviewed Somerset’s 2014 Tempranillo. While certainly a good wine, even lay readers with cursory existing knowledge about Temecula knew this wine was more Keyways than Somerset.
Well, the Somerset 2018 Cinsaut is the first red wine produced 100% from Somerset’s winemaking team from grape to glass (they’ve already released many white wines). While it’s the first of many new bottles to be released in the coming months, the 2018 Cinsaut is the indicator of caliber of reds we can expect from Somerset over the coming months and years.
And if this is what we can expect, I am very excited to try more from their upcoming portfolio.
In full disclosure, Somerset Vineyard & Winery donated the bottle described here. Other than providing the wine itself, there was no exchange of anything which would have influenced or unfairly biased this review.
Also noteworthy, the 2018 Cinsaut is a very limited release. Cinsaut is normally used for blending, to mellow out bold Rhône varietals and impart floral and spice notes. The Tiedts and Raffaelle have embraced experimentation and innovation, so extremely small-batch releases will be a norm from Somerset.
When & How I Would Drink It
First of all, the ginger bread element makes this wine a surprisingly outstanding addition for the winter holiday season. Someone looking to shake things up at the annual Christmas party would do well considering a few bottles of the Somerset 2018 Cinsaut.
But this wine isn’t simply a winter warmer. Its spice and floral notes complement spicy (hot) and well-seasoned foods, as well. Wine Folly suggests boeuf bourguignon as a viable pairing, and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, if extravagant French cuisine isn’t in the cards anytime soon, you might find the 2018 Cinsaut plays well with a lot of Mexican foods, like enchiladas, burritos al pastor, carne asada, and chiles rellenos. While spicy foods can accentuate the alcohol taste in wines, the fat from cheese and meat will help balance the flavors.
How to Get It
Order: Contact the Somerset Winery directly at (951) 365-5522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bottle Price: $40.00 ($32.00 for wine club members)
Cases Produced: 80 cases
Have you tried the Somerset 2018 Cinsaut? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.