Top image: Winemakers Michael Malan, Johan Malan and Charl Schoeman
A handful of wines from the pioneering Stellenbosch winery of Simonsig have again been placed among South Africa’s best in an acclaimed annual report by UK-based wine journalist and Master of Wine Tim Atkin.
Atkin has over 30 years’ experience and a strong international following. His comprehensive reviews of the world’s most important wine regions have amassed a global readership. For this eighth edition of the South Africa Special Report, he tasted just over 1 300 wines.
Using the international 100-point scoring system, Atkin picked his favourites this year to include Simonsig’s The Garland 2015, which rated 92; Chenin Avec Chêne 2018, 90; Cuvée Royale 2017, 91; Frans Malan 2016, 90; and, Tiara 2016, 92.
“Naturally, we’re happy with this latest achievement,” says Michael Malan, the third generation Simonsig winemaker who heads up red wine production. “Our winemaking tradition has always been rooted in a commitment to producing wines of international standard. These ratings by Tim Atkin acknowledge not only the excellence of these wines but also the consistency with which they deliver on our promise.”
Sharing the credit for the latest achievements with Michael and the rest of the winemaking team is fellow winemaker Charl Schoeman, who is responsible for Simonsig’s Cap Classique and white wine.
Simonsig has long bathed in the local and international limelight, not least for having led South Africa’s revolution in sparkling wines and the establishment of this country’s wine routes. Its wines have become ambassadors of Cape and particularly Stellenbosch terroir the world over, and treasured collectors’ items too.
More about the top-rated wines
· Chenin Avec Chêne 2018 – 90 points (Price: R195)
The year 2018 marked Simonsig’s 50th anniversary. Equally auspicious is the fact that Chenin Blanc was the first wine released by founder Frans Malan in 1968. Grapes for this vintage were harvested from Simonsig’s oldest Chenin vineyard at four different stages of ripeness to capture a spectrum of flavours. The result is a light golden-hued wine with aromatics of citrus blossom, dried peach and a hint of honey and nuts. Layers of white peach, citrus and dried fruit coat the palate. Overall, it shows as well-structured with hints of oak and fresh acidity in the long finish.
“This is a true gastronomic wine,” says Charl. “It works wonderfully with plainly grilled fish or chicken to piquant ripe creamy cheeses.”
· Cuvée Royale 2017 – 91 points (Price 375)
Simonsig pioneered bubbly in South Africa with the launch in the 1970s of Kaapse Vonkel. This was but the beginning and as insight and experience deepened, a furious pursuit of excellence was unleashed. The result was the establishment of a new champion – the Cuvée Royale, a wine that represents the pinnacle of Cap Classique quality. This rare creation is only produced from exceptional harvest vintages.
Lively wines like the Cuvée Royale come into their own when enjoyed with light, delicate foods such as fish, shellfish, crayfish, caviar or artichoke hearts. Fresh, succulent oysters are compulsory!
· Frans Malan 2016 – 90 points (Price: R295)
The wine is a Cape-style blend of Pinotage (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (23%) and Merlot (7%). On the nose, it shows an evolving bouquet of luscious fruit. Layers of red cherries and ripe, dark plums give way to the spicy notes of cherry tobacco and liquorice. This is an elegantly poised wine with well-defined, supple tannins. Enjoy on its own or with dukkha-crusted beef fillet medallions, slow roasted belly of pork, springbok espetada, roasted duck or grilled steak of ostrich.
· The Garland 2015 – 92 points (Price: R1 550)
Grapes for this wine hail from a single site, which showcases the quality available to Simonsig’s wine team. The slopes of Simonsberg Mountain are famous thanks to the world class Cabernet Sauvignon that is grown there.
The Malan family has a connection with these vineyards going back many generations and The Garland is a wine that seeks to express this close relationship.
The 2015 vintage of this wine displays an inky black centre with a great density of colour. Alluring blackberry fruit synergise with perfumed potpourri notes, graphite pencil shavings and spicy cedar wood. The fresh bramble fruit on the palate entry unfurls into multi-layered flavours of black cherry on the mid-palate. Notable are complex characters of violets, which are characteristic of Simonsberg terroir.
· Tiara 2016 – 92 points (Price: R295)
The Tiara is Simonsig’s flagship red wine, reflecting the best quality of the vintage. The 2016 comprises a typical Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (72%), Merlot (20%), Petit Verdot (4%) and Cabernet Franc (4%).
On the nose are rich, perfumed aromas of spiced red cherry with harmonious layers of raspberry compote, violets and a touch of pencil shavings. The wine is finely balanced with the fruit and carefully supported by judicious use of oak. The tannins are round with a long, dry finish. It is ideally served with braised pork belly, Chalmar beef rump or mushroom ravioli.
These wines and more – including large size bottles and older vintages – are available for sale from the online store at www.simonsig.co.za. The wines may also be purchased on the farm.
While Cuvée at Simonsig is no longer a restaurant, it serves as our new tasting room and lounge where visitors can enjoy specially curated cheese and/or charcuterie platters. Relaxing beneath Simonsig’s oak trees with a bite to eat and fine wine has long been the perfect way to spend a few hours in the Stellenbosch winelands.