Cienna is a wine grape variety developed by CSIRO. Grown primarily in semi arid regions of Southern Australia, Cienna produces a light, deep red wine that tastes of summer berries.
The name Cienna is a variant of the word Sienna, derived from its association with colour where it represents ‘reddish hue’ and was chosen after extensive consultation with industry representatives and marketers.
Cienna grapes generally ripen at the same time as Cabernet Sauvignon, and at Sunraysia, it produces higher yields than Cabernet Sauvignon. It has shown good rain tolerance in Sunraysia, Avoca and Coonawarra.
Cienna produces juice sugar levels that are comparable or higher than Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cienna wine made from grapes grown in the three regions had a titratable acidity similar to or higher than Cabernet Sauvignon, a lower wine pH and a higher colour density.
Sensory evaluation of the wine from each of the three regions was carried out by experienced industry tasting panels over several seasons. Cienna wine from each region scored equal to or slightly better than Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cienna wine can be described as having medium to dark colour, with herbaceous berry aromas and cherry flavours and good tannin structure.
The variety Cienna is the product of a cross between the Spanish wine variety Sumoll and the classic French variety Cabernet Sauvignon.
The original pollination was made in 1972 by the late Alan Antcliff, with the grape being granted Plant Breeder’s Rights in January 2000. A large team of people have contributed to the development of Cienna, led by Peter Clingeleffer (viticulturist) and George Kerridge (winemaker).
The aim of the program was to produce high quality red wine grapes suited to Australian conditions. The variety was selected from a much larger population of seedlings against selection criteria including good (grape juice) sugar to acid ratios, low pH, good colour and flavour and adequate yields.
The research included an extensive evaluation of the varieties in three wine growing regions; Coonawarra (South Australia), Avoca (Central Victoria) and Sunraysia (Northern Victoria). This was followed by a period of commercial evaluation involving progressive wine companies.