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Fizzy Facts: South Africa’s sparkling Simonsig

by Lucinda Beeman - September 15, 2016

This month we took a trip from Europe and went down to South Africa to source the Simonsig Stellenbosch Kaapse Vonkel in September’s sparkling Bubble Box. Made using the Cap Classique method, these beautiful bubbles are South Africa’s answer to French Champagne. Here are 5 must-know facts about this one-of-a-kind wine!

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1. The region: Stellenbosch

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Simonsig is named after its dramatic views of the Simonsberg Mountain

Simonsig winery is located in the Stellenbosch wine region of South Africa, one of the nation’s finest wine producing regions and just a short drive from Cape Town. Named for its stunning views of the Simonsberg Mountain, the winery was established in the 1950s, on land that at the time was part of a working farm.

2. The taste: fruity

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Image via Connected Table

This elegant wine, with jewel-like clarity and a beautiful medium-straw colour, boasts energetic bubbles and a magical aroma. On the palate you’ll taste freshly baked bread, along with notes of white peach and red fruit elevated by rich tones of granny smith apple and citrus.

Serve this wine chilled. To preserve the fabulously bright bubbles, pour the wine straight down into the centre of the glass. Delicious on its own, this wine is also fabulous with almond cake, duck, sushi and shellfish.

3. The grapes: classic Champagne varieties

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Chardonnay grapes are one of the three classic Champagne grape varieties

The three classic Champagne grape varieties are included in this wine: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a small amount of Pinot Meunier, which gives the wine a uniquely fruity flavour.

The 2014 vintage in this month’s Bubble Box was a quite a stressful one to produce. Heatwaves in February – the South African summer – and winter rains in March left the winemakers agonising over when the best moment to pick each grape variety would be. The complicated juggling act of that year’s harvest was also a test of endurance, stretching from the end of January to mid-April. Fortunately, the expertise of the Simonsig winemakers paid off, and the quality of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes was outstanding.

4. The winemakers: Simonsig Stellenbosch

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The Malan family still runs the vineyard today

The winery is a true family business. Founded by Frans Malan, a descendent of French Hugueonots who settled in South Africa to escape religious persecution, today the winery is run by his sons, Francois and Johan, and grandson Francois-Jaques. Their goal is to produce wines that express the unique and diverse terroir of the Stellenbosch region.

Simonsig is committed to ensuring the wellbeing of its staff and of our planet. These wines are sustainably made and the winery ascribes to numerous standards to ensure the ethical and responsible production of their wines.

Simonsig also offers mentorship and leadership programs to its staff and their children, alongside and onsite crèche and aftercare facility. Simonsig calls itself a family business – and they mean it!

5. The method: Cap Classique

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‘Kaapse Vonkel’ translates to ‘Cape Sparkler’ and is what the first bottle-fermented wines made in South Africa were called. Cap Classique wines are South Africa’s answer to French Champagne, and the two production methods are very similar.

This wine is lovely when young and completely ready to drink now, but like Champagne will develop in the bottle if stored correctly. Cellaring this bottle for between four and six years could bring out increased richness and complexity.

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