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Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2014: New Robe for an Old Classic


4 September 2019  -  Simonsig Wine Estate

The latest release of Simonsig’s acclaimed Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs, the premier offering in this pioneering estate’s Cap Classique portfolio, has been released in spectacular new packaging accentuating the prestigious image and quality of this acclaimed sparkling wine.

The Cuvée Royale 2014, made from Chardonnay grapes grown on the Stellenbosch estate, is characterised by an opulent and exuberant structure with bracing freshness, the result of this wine spending five years aging on the yeast in the bottle, as per the tradition of the great houses of Champagne. Simonsig was the first South African wine estate to make bottle-fermented sparkling wine, giving birth to the country’s Cap Classique category in 1971 and paving the way for a sector that has become one of the leaders in the local industry.

Johan Malan, Director of Wine at Simonsig, introduced the Cuvée Royale after visiting the Champagne region in the 1990. “Spending time in those vineyards and experiencing the winemakers’ attention to detail and their worshipping of culture, tradition and making of Champagne, I returned to Simonsig with a vision of making a premier Cap Classique based on what I had seen and tasted in France,” says Johan.

“So the Cuvée Royale was conceptualised: the finest Chardonnay grapes grown on weathered shale soils are gently pressed as whole bunches and then only the first part of the Cuvée is used. The Tête de Cuvée is the most delicate and refined one can ever dream of getting from the grapes. Primary fermentation in stainless steel ensures freshness and subtle primary fruit. The evolution of the wine is a slow journey in our cool cellars lasting a minimum of five years. Time and the interaction with the yeast creates the deeper flavours and enhances complexity and a divine silky texture.

Like all of the world’s great bottle-fermented sparkling wines, the Cuvée Royale shows the characteristics of a specific vintage, the latest release being 2014. Johan describes the 2014 vintage as slightly warmer in December and January than average, but fortunately the Chardonnay is picked very early in the season and therefor escapes the heat of February.The quality of the Chardonnay was outstanding - healthy bunches with noticeably small berries and very good acidity.”

The magic, however, occurs in the process of bottle-fermentation where the wine spends five years on the lees gaining complexity, structure and the exciting life-affirming sparkle that has made this style of wine the most famous and best-known in the world.

“We will never release a Simonsig Cuvée Royale if it does not meet our exact requirements,” says Charl Schoeman, Simonsig Cap Classique winemaker.

“With Simonsig being the pioneer of the Cap Classique category, our customers expects only the very best quality in a bottle of Cuvée Royale. Over the years this wine has gained a reputation for its elegance, finesse as well as the exuberant flavours of citrus, white flowers and roasted almonds, underscored by that sought-after brioche character which characterises this style of wine when it has reached an exceptional level of quality. The wine has evolved beautifully over five years and still shows remarkable youth and freshness, something Chardonnay is renowned for. Dosage is very low to retain the fruit while still reaching delicious balance and extraordinary length. With all this one can experience in the glass, the new stylish and modern packaging puts the cherry on top.”

Johan says Simonsig is particularly bullish about the release of the latest vintage of Cuvée Royale. Two previous vintages achieved top honours at the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge and the 2014 vintage is released with high expectations.

“The South African market is experiencing a run on premier, premium-priced Cap Classiquesas consumers are beginning to realise that our wines can compete with the finest in the world in terms of quality,” he says. “Coupled with the renewed efforts by the various marketing departments in elevating the image of Cap Classique into the premium sector of wine offerings, consumers locally and internationally are sitting-up and noticing the new levels of quality and class in the Cap Classique sector.”