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Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Satin Nectar Rosé 2017, perfect with Dianne Bibby’s Cognac Apple Cake…

Frans Malan the late, founder of Simonsig Wine Estate, with his wife Liza established the estate in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation and then proceeded on the most incredible pioneering journey in wine. Their sons, Johan [Production Director] and Francois [Vineyardist] continue on this path with the launch of their latest new product, the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Satin Nectar Rosé 2017. Frans created the first Kaapse Vonkel in the early 1970s. Since then the Simonsig range of the Champagne style wines, now known as Methode Cap Classique, has grown into a very comfortable little stable. The Satin Nectar is in keeping with the trend of sparkling wines for a little residual sugar for those who prefer this style. Several of the best-known Champagne houses are making this style of wine now which has taken off in a big way in Africa particularly.

The grapes in the blend for this wine are the traditional two black grapes of Champagne, Pinot Noir [72%] and Pinot Meunier [1%] with a goodly splash of our very own Pinotage [27%]. 

Michael Malan: Third generation winemaker at Simonsig

As the grandson of the Simonsig legend Frans Malan, Michael Frans Malan is one of the few third generation winemakers in Stellenbosch. Michael joined the Simonsig team in 2017 after gaining experience in Italy, Australia and South Africa and was appointed red winemaker this year working under cellarmaster Debbie Thompson and his father, Johan, who is Simonsig’s Director of Wine.

But the decision to follow in the footsteps of the previous two generations was not a foregone conclusion.

“I had always enjoyed maths and chemistry at school, so when it came to choosing a direction in which to study I applied for engineering as well as for viticulture and oenology at the University of Stellenbosch, and was accepted for both study-fields,” says the ebullient 30 year-old Michael. But the final decision came during a gap year when he found himself working a harvest in the Alto Adige region of Italy.

Simonsig Mr Borio’s Shiraz 2016, try it with Ina Paarman’s Twice Cooked Sticky Ribs…

I think we had better clear up the story about Mr Borio. Alessandro Borio was an Italian Prisoner of War sent to South Africa during the Second World War. And like many of these gentlemen, he had a talent – plastering. He liked working with ‘cemento’. He was one of the prisoners who stayed on here, there were many, and made major contributions to the adopted country. Alessandro’s speciality was building cement fermenting tanks. He built on Simonsig Wine Estate and also other wine estates as the farmers sent him round to their friends. The Simonsig Mr Borio’s Shiraz 2016 is named in honour of him and the work he did on the Estate.

The grapes for the Simonsig Mr Borio’s Shiraz 2016 came from vineyards that were newly planted in 1993 in order to provide the winery with the best possible quality grapes from virus treated clones. These new clones ripen earlier with high sugar levels, concentrated fruit and brilliant colour. 

De Grendel Shiraz 2017, so good with Alida Ryder’s Ostrich Kebabs with Feta & Herb Sauce…

The worst drought in the Western Cape in living memory was in full swing in 2017. While there were no significant heat waves during the summer, the nights were cool, and the vineyards were blessed with light rain in December 2016. The grapes harvested for the De Grendel Shiraz 2017 were of excellent quality with concentrated flavours and a bright acidity.

The grapes for the De Grendel Shiraz 2017 came from supplier vineyards, in the Paarl and Firgrove areas. Each making its own contribution to this sublime wine made by founding Cellarmaster Charles Hopkins and his cellar team. One picking took place in Paarl and a further two Firgrove pickings took place at different stages of the ideal ripeness window to spread the flavours. The three pickings were separately vinified up to just before malolactic fermentation, when they were blended, and the fermentation allowed to take place in stainless steel tanks. 

Ken Forrester, Maestro of Chenin

Some will raise an eyebrow at the title of this article, for surely the Loire Valley and appellations like Vouvray and Savennières are the spiritual home of wines made from Chenin Blanc?  That of course is true, but South Africa’s history and expertise with Chenin undoubtedly places it alongside. Around one fifth of all vineyards are given over to the variety – that’s more than double the Cape’s plantings of Chardonnay.

Believed to be among the first vine cuttings that arrived in South Africa in 1655 (when it was known as ‘Steen’), quantity alone would not be enough to put Cape Chenin on the map. Indeed, a few decades ago it had a fairly ignoble existence, being distilled for brandy production or blended into cheap jug wines. But along with so much in the Cape’s wine industry, all that changed with the post-apartheid opening-up of South Africa. 

Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Rosé 2019, perfect with Jane-Anne Hobbs’s Chicken Liver Paté with a Jellied Verjuice Topping…

The Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose, the Estate’s Rosé Cap Classique, has a sister in the Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Rosé 2019. Eagerly awaited and just such a lovely year-round wine. The Estate known as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cap Classique specialists only recently added this wine to its range.

The best grapes from the Estate are selected for this maiden vintage of Rosé.

Made in the traditional white wine way, it is a wine for all foods.

From a Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with a screw cap. The Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 label is in the typical elegant Haute Cabrière style. In the glass, a cherry blossom pink tinged with orange. The aromas are of ripe red berry fruits, fraises des bois, cranberry with an undertow of aromatic tea roses. 

De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2019, launched at Saint in Sandown….

Earlier this week I attended a luncheon at Saint in Sandown during which the latest release from the De Wetshof Wine Estate of their De Wethof Limestone Hill 2019. The wine is one of South Africa’s most popular unwooded Chardonnays, and it emphasises the reputation 2019 is getting for being one of the best vintages for white wine in the Cape’s recent history. Johann de Wet, CEO of De Wetshof Estate in Robertson, and our host told us that the relatively wet 2018 winter put some much-needed moisture back into the soils. But it was the temperate weather conditions before and leading up to the 2019 harvest that resulted in optimum ripening of fruit in the vineyards. Despite the relatively cold and wet Cape winter of 2018, the Cape is still experiencing a drought due to the previous five years’ low rainfall.

Adding quality to life with Natura de-alcoholised

In line with the latest lifestyle trends, Leopard’s Leap Wines is excited to introduce a charming new addition to the Leopard’s Leap portfolio: Leopard’s Leap Natura De-alcoholised Classic White and Classic Red

This exciting couple gives wine lovers a delightful alternative for adding quality to life during those occasions or in those moments where alcohol can or should not be consumed. Versatile, health-conscious and delicious, Natura is ideal for a responsible, everyday quality lifestyle. Being de-alcoholised, the Natura is made from a traditional alcoholic wine from which the alcohol has been extracted to leave no more than 0.5% abv.

Debbie Thompson Takes Over Role of Cellar Master at Simonsig Estate

In her 20th year at Simonsig Estate in Stellenbosch, Debbie Thompson has been promoted to cellar master at this revered and pioneering third-generation winery. Thompson takes over the role of cellar master from Johan Malan under whom she has worked since joining Simonsig in 1999.

Malan will in future be Simonsig’s Director of Winemaking, leaving Thompson to lead the winemaking team of Charl Schoeman (Cap Classique and white wine) and Michael Malan, the third generation Malan in the Simonsig cellar, who takes over from Thompson as red winemaker. Thompson graduated from Stellenbosch University with a degree in oenology and worked for a brief stint at Hazendal before joining Simonsig where she has spent most of her career.