With a philosophy of only releasing the very best expression of The Garland’s single-vineyard cabernet sauvignon site, Simonsig’s previous vintage release was the 2011. Enter 2015, which is considered one of the best, if not the greatest-ever vintage for South African wine, and most especially associated with producing long-lived cabernet sauvignon as well as Bordeaux-style blends.
The Garland 2015 is more than living up to that promise, being awarded a coveted Platter’s 5-star accolade in the 2021 guide, among other high scores from both local and international critics. Also recently, the estate’s prestige was further underscored when patriarch Johan Malan was awarded as the Diners’ Club Winemaker of the Year 2020.
The single-vineyard for The Garland is located high up on the Simonsberg; its slopes famed for growing world-class, distinctive cabernet. On a particularly steep section of the old Knorhoek farm lies the site, at the top end of a band of premium cabernet vineyards, running along the ascent of the ancient mountain.
Commented third generation winemaker of Simonsig, Michael Malan: “When walking through that block I get goosebumps. The view has a lot to do with it – but it’s more than that. Everything looks in balance, from the aspect to the soils. You just inherently know the potential of the grapes growing there.”
The Malans are committed to the site long-term and are responsible for all the vineyard management. Though this winemaking family is tied to this slice of mountain terroir in more ways than one. Johan Malan’s mother, Liza, grew up on this farm – just around the corner from Simonsig Estate – and its deep red-hued granite soils are embedded as well-worn pathways in familial memory.
“Our family has a connection with these vineyards going back many generations and The Garland is a wine that expresses this close relationship with the mountain, the vineyard and our family,” shared Michael.
The cool maritime block sits at 400 metres above sea level, slanted to the cooling influences from the Atlantic Ocean. The climate lends itself to longer ripening times, which leads to a deeper concentration of flavours in the grapes as well as the foundation of a long-lived structure, from both the retention of bright acidity as well as the accumulation of age-worthy fruit-driven tannins.
The Garland is not only rare in that it is produced in select years, but also only a few barrels are made each time, in 2015 the count was just six. The determining factors for the single-vineyard cabernet to make it to bottle are a combination of fruit intensity and concentration, palate weight as well as a structure that promises to go the distance.
“With The Garland we want to show the ageability of cabernet and how long it can stay fresh and hold on to fruit purity while still evolving in complexity and texture,” said Michael.
The 2015 yield was limited by green harvesting to one bunch per shoot. The grapes were handpicked and meticulously hand sorted. In the winemaking Michael says they approach the vinification classically with a modern twist. “We don’t over-extract and we work softer during fermentation. Balance and attention to detail is key.” The fruit is lifted and supported by new French oak for a maturation period of 24 months, before resting in the bottle for a number of years before release.
The Garland 2015 is not only a window into the future, but also into the rocky terrain of its origins, showing top notes of dark violets, a character so true to the Simonsberg terroir. Alluring blackberry fruit and the subtle perfume of potpourri follows, unfolding into graphite and spicy cedar wood. The fresh brambly fruit on the palate entry expands into multi-layered flavours of black cherry and dark chocolate on the mid-palate with a mineral core of pure fruit intensity. The tannins, carved to perfection.
“It’s a remarkable expression of Simonsberg cabernet sauvignon from the superb 2015 vintage and with further cellaring it will continue to evolve over the next 15 to 20 years,” added Michael.
Simonsig Estate has long been held in high regard with its historic track record of excellence, which intrinsically comes with an assurance of quality.
The Garland is the ultimate expression of this commitment and winemaking passion, crafted by impeccable terroir and revealed in every bottle, encapsulating the cornerstones of the Simonsig legacy: a family, a mountain and a vineyard.
To further showcase The Garland 2015’s gravitas, Simonsig will be including an AMADEO Riedel decanter to the value of R4 995 with the first 40 cases (at six bottles per case). This offer is exclusively for online orders as well as direct from the farm.
The Garland 2015 is available online and from the farm at R1 550 per bottle and at R9 300 per case of six.