Simonsig Wine Estate, in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation, has been producing Cabernet Sauvignon since 1976. The measure for the future of this noble variety was its taking of the General Smuts Trophy at the National Wine Show as the Champion Wine of the Year. The vineyards have of course been replanted with owner and viticulturist Francois Malan finding more suitable soils and improved clones. Shy bearing vines are planted in deep red weathered granite and shale soils, known for their excellent moisture retention. Little if any irrigation is required and the fruit is wonderfully concentrated. The current vintage is the Simonsig The Labyrinth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.
The grapes for the Simonsig The Labyrinth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 had a tough time during the drought, though dry conditions delivered healthy grapes. The estate reports “Grapes are picked based on taste to keep track of flavour development in the vineyard. Grapes are picked during cool early mornings and are handled reductively all the way through vinification. Limited skin contact is allowed on selected batches to maximise fruit without losing acidity. Gentle pressing and lower juice recovery give rise to greater elegance. The juice is settled brilliantly clear and inoculated with a selected yeast strain. Fermentation temperatures are kept low at 11-12 °C to ensure slow fermentation and enhance fruit intensity. After fermentation the wine is kept on the lees as long as possible (3-6 months) and stirred regularly to enhance mouth feel. 14 months oaking. 100% French Oak. 32% 2nd fill, 34% 3rd fill and 34% Other.”
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. Elegant, simple Simonsig label. In the glass, at the heart, the wine is a deep almost Indian Ink bloodplum in colour, this pales out to a translucent ruby at the edges. The aromas are of black fruit, blackcurrants, blackberries and roadside brambles. There is an undertow of Parma Violet Sweets. The flavour is berry fruit full from entry through a generous mid palate into the long and gently waning aftertaste. The tannins are well interwoven with the other components and give a ‘dry’ finish to the Cabernets ‘sweet’ fruits. Lovely classic glass of Cabernet.
In summer, it makes quite a difference to chill the wine for about 30 minutes in the fridge or in an ice bucket. It is a sipper, at sundown, or after dinner for the more serious conversations one has. It is a food wine firstly and suited to the traditional Sunday roast lunch as much as to the well-cooked midweek supper dish. While red meat dishes or hearty vegetarian foods are a good match, Roberta Muir’s Asparagus & Goat Cheese Risotto is a perfect dish to have with the Simonsig The Labyrinth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. Click HERE for her recipe.
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