The very first Méthode Champenoise wine was pioneered by Frans Malan, the very busy founder of Simonsig Wine Estate in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation. Frans, with the support of his wife Liza, pushed the envelope further and further as one of the great wine pioneers of 20th Century Cape Wine. Frans, the late patriarch of the Malan family of Simonsig Wine Estate, pioneered what was to become Méthode Cap Classique 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 his son Johan 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 idea for the Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2014 was born.
For Frans’s sons Francois, the Vineyardist and Johan, the Wine Production Director, the 2014 vintage was a challenging one. There were heat waves in February and early winter rain in March creating a juggling match of when and what to pick. Nevertheless, the quality of the Chardonnay was outstanding with ripe luscious fruit and good acidity.
The Chardonnay grapes selected by Francois for this wine came from the finest and most compatible of the Simonsig soils. Hand harvested and selected in the cellar, the whole bunches were gently pressed to produce the finest cuvée. First fermentation for the base wine was completed in stainless steel tanks. Once fermented, the base wine was bottled in the Champagne shaped bottled and closed with a crown cork. The second fermentation took place in the bottle and the wine lay on its lees for a further 4 to 5 years before being degorged.
From a Champagne shaped bottle, closed with natural cork and a wire muzzle. The livery is elegant and in a rich blue. In the glass, the wine is a pale golden straw with masses if the tiniest bubbles rising to the surface and forming a crown round the edges. The aromas are of ripe white fleshed peaches, a sparky citrus and fresh baked almond brioche. The palate is vibrant, with different layers coming and going, lemony lime, sliced Golden Delicious apples yeasty biscotti. The mid palate is generous with a lovely thread of acidity running through into the long aftertaste. After the time in the cellar on its lees, this wine is ready for drinking now.
The Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2014 is an anytime wine, don’t overchill it. Fun as a mid morning refresher. Don’t keep it for a special occasion, rather enjoy it with food with a well cooked supper dish mid week when you have had a tough day. Will certainly give you the lift you need. It is good with fish and seafood, clean rather than overly sauced dishes. Oysters are always a great match with a fine wine like this. BUT, move away from tradition and outside on the patio, while the sun is setting, a rustic supper dish so perfect for this wine is Alida Ryder’s Crispy Bacon Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Caramelised Onions. Click HERE to get her recipe and to have a look at her website.
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Read more about Simonsig Wines – www.simonsig.co.za