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Michael Olivier is one of South Africa’s leading experts on wine; author of six books and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Eat Out magazine. Read his review of the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2021.
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Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2021
By Michael Olivier
Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel set the trend for Méthode Champenoise Wines in 1971, when the late Frans Malan produced the first Cap Classique called Kaapse Vonkel. While the original wine was made from Chenin Blanc, Frans’s Winemaker son Johan, and his grandson Michael, now make this wine using the classical Champagne grapes, 53% Chardonnay, 46% Pinot Noir, and the little known but important second black grape of Champagne, 1% Pinot Meunier. After these base wines are separately vinified, a portion of the Chardonnay matures in previously filled French oak barrels, this adds to the complexity of flavours in the final wine. After blending, what is known as the base wine is then bottled with a shot of sugar and yeast. Closed with a crown cork, the wine ferments and the carbon dioxide produced is forced back into the wine forming the bubbles in this fabled style of wine. Once disgorged and the depleted yeast cells removed, the wine is bottled with a dosage, usually a sugar brandy mix, though this does differ each vintage. The wine is then closed with a natural cork and the little wire muzzle. Labelling then takes place.
From a Champagne shaped bottle closed with natural cork, the muzzle, foiling and an elegant label. In the glass, the wine is a pale straw in colour with the tiniest bubbles rushing headlong to the surface to form a crown round the edge. The aromatics are of crisp green apples, desiccated pear, and baked butter brioche. On entry the palate has a brisk line of acidity enhanced by the bubbles, crisp and refreshing. The mid palate is frisky and long, and the refined aftertaste has a river stone mineral undertow.
It is easy to say oysters. Yes, they are good with the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel 2021. But so is quick fried whitebait, or even a mild curry for which it is a great partner.
About Michael Olivier
As a young aspiring chef, Michael laid a solid foundation for his career at the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in London. Over the next 30 years he had a series of high-profile hospitality management posts, was the Public Relations Manager for Boschendal and ran three successful restaurants in the Cape, one of which, Parks, featured in the national top 10 restaurants.
Michael is a family man, author and broadcaster, and lives in Somerset West, Cape Town. A lifetime devoted to the promotion and appreciation of the South African wine and food industry has earned him many accolades, including the Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Eat Out Awards. Michael continues to be prolific, informative, and entertaining on his wine and food website, www.michaelolivier.co.za.
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