Simonsig Aurum Chardonnay 2007
By Christian Eedes, 19 October 2010
With my sweetheart and me both feeling disinclined to fulfil grocery shopping duties for supper last night, we debated how best to dispense with the various soon-to-expire items in the fridge: broccoli-based stir fry vs. bratwurst with broccoli vs. pasta with chicken and mushroom in a cream-based sauce.
I was soon sautéing the onions, followed by cubed chicken breasts, then double-thick cream left over from a strawberries-and-cream pudding about ten days ago and finally the mushrooms, all five of them.
What to drink? Unsolicited wine samples might sound like a cool job perk to the average punter but here’s the reality: you only get one decent bottle for every three bottles of Rosé. However, a bottle of Simonsig Aurum Chardonnay 2007 dropped off a few weeks ago looked promising.
The first point of intrigue was its closure: an airtight plastic seal under a crowncap – usually used for bottle-fermented sparkling wines before disgorgement. According to the accompanying media release, this is the only wine in South Africa bottled like this. Novelty packaging or viable alternative to cork and screwcap?
The second noteworthy aspect of this wine is its price: R260 a bottle from the farm, which straight away positions it next to the country’s most expensive examples of the variety such as Hamilton Russell Vineyards 2009 and Glen Carlou Quartz Stone 2009 both at R275 a bottle.
Does it deliver? It’s certainly received the full treatment. In the vineyard, two Burgundian clones used as well as picking at different ripeness levels to achieve the broadest possible flavour spectrum. In the cellar, a selection of the five best barrels out of a total production of 70. The wine was fermented and matured in French oak, 100% new for 16 months. Two of the five barrels involved wild yeast fermentation to further enhance complexity and the entire production underwent malolactic fermentation (the second, softening fermentation that is currently somewhat unfashionable when it comes to Chardonnay as winemakers strive for freshness).
I would describe Aurum Chardonnay as old-fashioned in the best sense. It is big and rich but not exaggerated or out of proportion and very rewarding to drink: there’s a combination of citrus, yellow apple and freshly baked bread on the nose, while the palate smooth textured with gentle acidity and the oak beautifully integrated. They don’t make ‘em like this any more…