The Obriers cuvee was first bottled in 2005 as a tribute to Southern France’s most unloved (at the time) and reviled grape varieties: Cinsault and Carignan. These days both varieties are positively fashionable. As 2019 was a year of such low yields at La Pèira we found we were not in a position to bottle the Obriers, we had so little of it. Never fear, however, for we will be bottling some of the standard Obriers cuvee in March 2020. In the meantime, we have something exciting that goes back to the original idea behind the Obriers cuvee. The initial release of what may become a series (Obriers: Éditions Monocépage) looking at local, typical or overlooked varieties in southern France. This first release is an extraordinary plot of 100% Cinsault.
Éditions Monocépage : An Extraordinary Plot of Cinsault
These days Cinsault is the Pinot Noir of the South according to some. Yet only a decade or two ago it was (along with Carignan and others) one of the most despised and rejected of grape varieties. It hid its face and was esteemed not. Grants were given to growers who would pull it up, get rid of it, and plant something more commercial.
It was derided as a workhorse grape, a beast of burden, a filler for unremarkable blends and roses. Plantings fell from the 1980s on to a mere fraction of what they were.
The Oxford Companion to Wine on Cinsault reads:
“the wines it produces tend to be lighter, softer, and, in extreme youth, more aromatic and charmingly cher- ry-fruited than most of its peers.
Jancis Robinson writes, “with its lighter skins and soft perfume it is particularly suitable for rosés and fruity, early- drinking reds, although low yields are needed to eke out much flavour.”
In 2005, we thought we could do something wonderful with these grape varieties of Cinsault
and Carignan. The now-retired Robert Parker describe the first vintage he tasted (the 2006) as: “Falling somewhere between a great Cote Rotie and a top-notch Hermitage”. In 2020, in same way, we wished to see what individual indigenous or long-standing traditional southern varieties can do when bottled alone.
So, this is not the usual normal blend of Obriers cuvee. That will be released in March 2020.
Rather it is a special bottling of an exceptional plot of this Cinsault that has played a part in the Obriers blend for many years and now has a chance to shine alone.15-vintages have seen a good degree of care and attention in the Obriers vineyards, and well as a gaining of understanding as to what each individual plot can deliver.
It’s a wonderful bottle of pure Cinsault. One we hope at La Pèira will play its small part among others in ensuring a more effusive entry in future editions of the Oxford Companion.