Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tasting Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel with lunch at Aubergine

Simonsig Estate was recently crowned top producer at the 16th Amorim Cap Classique Challenge. Last week, we were invited to a tasting of older vintages from Simonsig’s range of Cap Classiques, hosted by cellarmaster Johan Malan. This was followed by lunch at Aubergine restaurant with a paired menu to match these excellent wines. They were innovative pairings by Chef Patron Harald Bresselschmidt, who is one of the most skilled at this difficult art
The line up of wines we were to taste
Johan Malan chats to journalist Graham Howe
The table laid for the tasting
Restaurant manager Catherine Poole welcomes Allan Mullins and Richard, Allan's driver and aide
Drinks outside on the terrace first
Jacques Jordaan, Simonsig's Sales and Marketing manager, spoke first. Simonsig's success is a tribute to Johan and his late father, Frans, who made South Africa's first Champagne method sparkling wine. Jacques will be travelling worldwide North, West and East next year to New York, Moscow and Shanghai to promote the wines
Johan Malan told us that his son Michael Frans has joined as a wine maker in the last week. He has been working at Creation for the last three years
Jacques and Johan, with their new Social Media manager Chantal Esau in the background
We began with the 1999 Kaapse Vonkel Brut, degorged in 2016. There are only 100 bottles left of this in the Vinoteque. Bready and yeasty, rich and mature with richness on the palate still dry and crisp with stewed apple notes. Interestingly this has 4.7% of Pinotage added 13 years and 8 months on the lees. Incredible
A nice touch, not water biscuits or cream crackers but shards of flat bread to cleanse the palate
Next was the outstanding 2005 Kaapse Vonkel with extended cork contact; bottled 2005, degorged 2007. Sea Salt and sea mist on the nose, crisp sparkling mousse, also initially with sea salt flavours. Crisp and elegant. Gout Anglaise maturity, so good apple crumble flavours. Lynne’s favourite of the tasting with 18.5 points. The 2005 recently degorged came next, softer on the nose with some herbal notes; it was less full on the palate with nice apple sorbet flavours
MCC Winemaker Hannes Meyer, who has been with Simonsig for 9 years, took us through this tasting. Then came the Kaapse Vonkel 2013. Biscuity on the nose and a little sea mist. Citrus crisp, then apple, long on the palate, and slightly sweeter. Will age well. This has no Pinot Meunier
Next the 2015. Granny Smith apple on the nose, and some red apple too, with a lovely mousse. This wine is a poem to apple on the palate. To come and to be bought. 18 points
Time to taste four vintages of the  Cuvée Royale. First the 2005; 96% Chardonnay, 4% Pinot Noir. Rich and full, brandy and brulée with hot rolls and butter on the nose. A crisp mousse, almost cutting. Long flavours of apple sorbet with a little mint, creaminess turns the sorbet into apple ice cream
Ralph Reynolds, Sommelier at Aubergine, with our next vintage of  Cuvée Royale 2010 (100% Chardonnay). It had 4 years on the lees, 3 on cork. Ciabatta bread baking nose, yeasty and savoury. Crisp zingy apple flavours, both cooked and raw grated, this MCC is still fresh and young and attractive. 18 points
Hannes pours us the next two vintages (100% Chardonnay) 2011 nutty and showing its age; 5 years on lees, and the 2012, 5 years on the lees, no wood and no malolactic fermentation. A hint of herbal buchu on the nose, with long apple sorbet flavours on the palate; a wine that really sparkles, fresh and fun
Time for lunch after the splendid tasting of Simonsig MCCs. Jacques introduced Aubergine’s Chef Patron, Harald Bresselschmidt
Chef Harald runs through the four course menu with us, which will be paired with two of the current MCCs we have just tasted, plus the Pinot Noir Brut Rosé 2015 and the Demi Sec 2015
The menu
Ocean caught and flavoured Kabeljou, marinated and cooked sous vide on a nettle and green apple purée matched the 2015 so completely, echoing all its flavours
Diane Malan, Johan's wife, who is the support of the family
The next course of Calf’s liver, pink in the centre, so seldom served, so much appreciated by us, on new season tender broad beans, with breadcrumbs and lemon glazed white grapes. Served with the Cuvée Royale 2012
Then came tender Quail breasts filled with mousseline, with a prawn reduction, pistachio nuts and a cherry-quinoa dressing which went so well with the Pinot Noir Brut Rosé 2015, our favourite Cape Brut Rosé
And, with the dessert of an Ivory chocolate dome with a soft MCC centre, an almond streusel and angelica ice cream with a white flower espuma. Perfectly matched with the Kaapse Vonkel Demi Sec MCC 2015
The Simonsig team had to have a photo with Allan Mullins, as his Simonsig MCC for Woolworths was also lauded in this year's Amorim Cap Classique Awards. It was a great occasion

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