Frans Malan, the patriarch of the Malan family of Simonsig Wine Estate, pioneered Méthode Champenoise in South Africa in 1971 when the first Kaapse Vonkel was made. For many years he was the only winemaker to do bottle fermented sparkling wine in the Cape. In 1990 Johan Malan travelled to Champagne on a study tour. He returned with a dream to make a Simonsig Prestige Cuvée from the finest and most delicate Chardonnay cuvées capable of long evolution to achieve the pinnacle of Cap Classique quality.
The vintage of 2014 was one of great contrasts with heat waves in February and then winter rains in March. Quite a juggle for Francois Malan and his team deciding what to pick and where. Picking started on January 23rd and only finished on April14th. Once hand harvested, with bunches already selected in the vineyards, came to the cellar for whole bunch pressing. Gently pressed bunches give free what is known as the cuvée. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then bottled and given a shot of yeast and sugar for the second fermentation.
The bottle you buy is the bottle in which the wine is fermented. 4 to 5 years on the lees in the bottle follows before the wine is prepared for disgorging and having the cork and the little wire muzzle attached and the labelling applied.
From a traditional Champagne bottled, closed with natural cork and the wire muzzle. The label is different to the Kaapse Vonkel label, elegant in blue. In the glass, the wine is a pale gold in colour with a mass of bubbles rushing headlong to the surface and forming a crown round the edges. The aromas are of sappy white fleshed peaches, white tropical flowers and fresh baked brioche. The palate is one of pure elegance, beautifully structured with the clear citrus. Sliced Granny Smith apples and almond shortbread. It is long, generous with a vibrant line of acidity running through from entry to the long aftertaste. The wine is ready for now drinking.
For a wine like the Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2014, people usually recommend oysters and other high priced seafoods. The wine is as happy with a puff pastry cheese twist, or a bowl of fat green olives or oven roasted, salted almonds. It is happy with a sublime Smoked Salmon or Trout parcel. I prepared this once on Expresso, the morning breakfast TV Show.
Michael’s Smoked Salmon Trout Parcels
What you’ll need
200 g smoked salmon trout strips
300 g smooth cream cheese, you can get one with salmon flavouring
½ tsp capers
1 Tbs lime juice
grated rind of half a lime – very fine
1 tsp fresh dill – finely chopped or 1 tsp chives
1 tsp parsley – finely chopped
Tabasco sauce to taste
What you’ll do
You can make these in normal size muffin tins.
Lay out four strips of smoked salmon trout and trim the edges. Trimming can be added to the filling.
Beat the cheese until soft and add the remaining ingredients.
Carefully place a portion of the filling on the trout and wrap it up into a parcel.
You will want to refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
Place on a large leaf on a plate and garnish with lime slices and slices of jumbo size green olives.
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