Simonsig: A benchmark South African producer


Quality, consistent value and continued innovation are all descriptions that fit Simonsig. They’re a South African producer of note that has been getting it done in proper fashion for over five decades now. In fact, last year marked 50 years of winemaking for the Malan family. Starting in 1968, they’ve been making wine outside Stellenbosch under the Simonsig Family Vineyards label. A couple of years later in 1970, they introduced their first red. They’ve continued to push the quality envelope over time and widen their portfolio with complementary offerings when and where they fit in well. Their flagship wine remains Chenin Blanc, but there’s much more to enjoy when you peak under the hood, including Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and a Bordeaux-inspired blend. Several sparkling wines also help flesh out their lineup and boost how impressive it is.

I’ve been drinking Simonsig wines for more than a decade, and the quality, while always good, has risen over time. The offerings are uniformly well made, delicious and solid. Tasting two distinct expressions of Pinotage side by side is a good way to see the range of this grape, while their entry-level Chenin Blanc stands as one of the outstanding white wine values in the world.

Simonsig 2018 Chenin Blanc ($14)

This is entirely Chenin Blanc and it was fermented in stainless steel. The nose of this remarkably fragrant wine is dotted with a mélange of stone fruits and wisps of spice. Honeydew melon, kiwi and apricot are all evident on the delicious palate. The finish is fruity, spicy and honeyed. Perfect all by itself, this Chenin will also be a great partner with Indian food. Buy it by the case and make it your house white.

Simonsig 2018 “Sunbird” Sauvignon Blanc ($18)

Simonsig has been producing Sauvignon Blanc for 40 years now. The fruit is sourced from four regions, with Stellenbosch fruit making of 55% of the cuvee. Grapefruit and lemon ice drive the aromatics. The palate is stuffed with bits of cantaloupe, lime zest and spice. Guava and continued lemon flavors are in evidence on the long finish.

Simonsig 2017 Avec Chene Chenin Blanc ($36)

Fruit sourced from the winery’s oldest Chenin plantings and the use of oak are a couple of the contributing factors distinguishing this offering from their other Chenin. Wet limestone leads the way on a slightly reticent nose. Dried stone fruit and bits of preserved citrus dominate the intense palate. Minerals, spice and continued elements of focused fruit are evident on the impressive finish.

Simonsig 2016 Pinotage ($18)

A vinicultural crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut created Pinotage. Blackberry and bramble are evident on the nose. Hints of smoked meat, black raspberry and spice light up the palate. Bits of peat and continued dark fruits drive the finish. If you’re looking for something to pair with off the grill, this is it. Don’t be afraid to put a bit of a chill on it in warmer months.

Simonsig 2016 Redhill Pinotage ($38)

Redhill Pinotage is produced from select barrels that in turn came from the Red Hills of their estate. The aromatics are focused and floral with intermingling bits of spice. Leather, black fruit and toasty oak notes are all in evidence on the palate. The finish is long and lush. Delicious today, this Pinotage will drink well for a dozen years.

Simonsig 2015 Tiara ($39)

Cabernet Sauvignon (68%), Merlot (24%), Cabernet Franc (4%) and Petit Verdot (4%) were blended to create this vintage of Tiara. What’s most impressive about this blend is how seamless it is. 2015 Tiara is definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Dusty cocoa and blackberry aromas explode from the nose. The palate is stuffed with dark fruit flavors that are both bold and elegant in nature. Black cherry, spice and bits of leather are evident on the long and impressive finish.

Simonsig 2015 Merindol Syrah ($40)

Merindol is entirely Syrah from a single vineyard. Violet and blackberry aromas fill the nose. The palate is stuffed with red and black cherry flavors as well as a generous dollop of black pepper. Hints of chocolate sauce and earth are in play on the long finish. This wine compares favorably with examples from the Rhone.

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