Very interesting wine dinner last night with Johan Malan, chief winemaker, cellar master, and owner of Simonsig Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Incredibly, the legacy of the landmark Malan family winery dates back to 1688 when the first Malan, a French Huguenot, arrived in S. Africa and began to plant vineyards.
In 1953, his descendant Frans Malan planted vineyards on De Hoop, in the foothills of the Simonsberg Mountains outside Stellenbosch. Frans Malan introduced numerous innovations in terms of winemaking, which are now continued by Johan.
Today Simonsig produces an extensive range of red, white, and sparkling wines which earned the estate international acclaim as one of the most reputable private wine producers in South Africa.
Delmonico’s was a great place for the tasting because the starter courses of shellfish was great to show off the white and sparkling wines, and the red wines really matched well with the steaks.
Kicking things off was the sparkling 2014 Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rose, a blend of 67% Pinot Noir, 31% Pinotage, and 2% Pinot Meuneir. It was a delicious sparkler with a fabulous seductive color, and crisp mineral finish.
The 2015 Sunbird Sauvignon Blanc checked all the boxes in terms of gooseberry, green pepper, and other aromas and flavors with a crisp clean finish, and two 2015 Chenin Blancs were on offer – one oaked, one unoaked. Very different styles, both high quality with ripe fruit and a crisp clean finish.
The reds included the 2013 Simonsig Pinotage, only $17.99, young bur with vibrant flavors and a great pairing with steak. Then there was the Redhill Pinotage, very premium at $37.99 yet one of the best new oak-matured wines from the red hills of Simonsig.
Following was the stunning 2011 Simonsig Tiara, comprised of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. It is the flagship wine of Simonsig, very elegant and able to rival fine Cru Classe Bordeaux.
Finally, there was the intriguing 2010 Simonsig Merindol Syrah, matured in 100% new French oak. Velvet tannins and ability to improve even more with age.
Johan was a charming host, and great spokesperson for his brand and the quality wines of S. Africa.