The Garland – Crowning Achievement in Simonsig`s Illustrious Wine History

Simonsig, the Stellenbosch wine estate famous for the pioneering roll it played in the industry, has reached a new milestone in its proud history.

The launch of The Garland 2008 is the crowning success on an extensive wine range and a reputation for excellence that Simonsig has amassed since the release of its first wine in 1968.

The Garland is Simonsig’s first super premium wine and is produced from a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon grapes situated against the slopes of Stellenbosch’s Simonsberg mountain, one of the leading locations when it comes to superlative red wine, and specifically Cabernet Sauvignon. Only a limited supply of this extraordinary wine will be made available to the market annually, and the price for the 2008 vintage is R1 375 per bottle. A total of 1 500 bottles of this wine will be released.

According to Simonsig cellarmaster Johan Malan, The Garland is the culmination of a dream that Simonsig has long cherished to introduce a particularly luxurious wine to the market that represents the ultimate expression of the estate’s winemaking heritage.

“It has been a long and arduous journey to reach the point where we could finally unveil The Garland this year,” says Johan. “But the quality of wine that Simonsig is now able to offer the market along with our other, better known labels makes it absolutely worthwhile. A winemaker is never entirely satisfied with his wine, but with this one it is as close as can be.”

The Garland is made from a unique Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard majestically situated against the steep slopes of the Simonsberg. The vineyard is managed by Simonsig in conjunction with the owners of the land on which it stands.

“The vineyard truly yields some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon grapes I have ever seen,” says Johan. “The vines are planted in lovely red weathered granite soils, with good chunks of granite visible between the vineyards. The site is about 400 m above sea level and the vineyard is exposed to both the cold Atlantic Ocean from Table Bay as well as the sea breeze from False Bay’s side. These are perfect conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon, as the many great wines made from Simonsberg grapes have shown through the years.”

There is a family connection between the Malans from Simonsig and the farm on which the The Garland vineyard is located. The land belongs to the Van Niekerk family, Johan’s maternal relatives.

“As a child I regularly visited the farm and was always fascinated by these vineyards that seem to cling to the mountain slopes,” recalls Johan. “And when I set out on my winemaking career, it was always my dream to one day get my hands on exceptionally good Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Simonsberg and make an iconic wine.”

In order to obtain optimal fruit quality in the harvest, a significant amount of bunches were removed in the early season, until only one bunch per shoot remained. The grapes were harvested by hand and kept in chilled conditions after destemming to allow good development of the berry flavours. Inoculation with a Bordeaux yeast strain followed and the grapes fermented on the skins for 29 days to extract maximum colour and flavour.

The wine was then matured in new French oak for 26 months before bottling, after which it was given more time to develop in the bottle.

According to Johan the wine exhibits violets and plums on the nose, with a touch of truffle and forest floor. The flavours are typically Cabernet Sauvignon, with blackberry and pencil shavings, as well as a subtle fynbos character. Immaculate wood maturation adds soft tannins with flavours of spice and vanilla rounding off the wine. Although the current vintage has already matured for seven years, it will continue to develop until it reaches its peak between the years of 2018-2022.

“It is a rare wine, and the price is high for a South African wine,” says Johan. “But The Garland is the ultimate expression of unique terroir and the winemaking style of Simonsig, and it is a product we are immensely proud of. As the name suggests, this wine is a crown that Simonsig wears to display and to honour a remarkable achievement.”