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Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé 2008 vs. Simonsig Woolworths Limited Release Pinot Noir Rosé No Added SO₂ 2009

Pink as the bing on your cherry.
Pink as the bing on your cherry.

“Pink’s not a colour. It’s an attitude,” says Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines, unwittingly quoting US actress-cum-pop singer Miley Cyrus, on opening a bottle of his yet-to-be released Rosé this past Saturday. The wine is Mourvèdre based à la the wines of Bandol that he fancies and while local examples are generally dire, this shows promise.

On the nose, there’s currently quite a substantial reductive pong but nothing a good racking won’t sort out according to Sadie. The palate, meanwhile, it what really impresses with good fruit concentration and a touch of spice before a super-dry finish. Something of a contrast to all the dull, wishy-washy stuff that normally passes for Rosé.

No matter how good Sadie’s wine might be, however, I’m not sure how much I’d ever want to drink it. There’s something terminally effete for me about still Rosé while sparkling Rosé at least has a slightly decadent connotation as The Eagles observed in Hotel California when they sang “Mirrors on the ceiling, The pink Champagne on ice…”

Getting about as decadent as we ever do in the suburbs, we’d opened two bottles of pink fizz the previous evening, both from Stellenbosch farm Simonsig. First up was the Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé 2008, a curious blend of 63% Pinotage, 29% Pinot Noir and 8% Pinot Meunier.

Guess what? It tasted like Pinotage with bubbles, and if you’re a Pinotage nut, then you’ll probably love it. Disconcertingly dark pink in colour, it had an overtly fruity nose with lots of strawberry and even plum flavour as well as some earthiness on the palate. It appeared ripe and full on entry but finished rather short. Something of an oddity, I thought it no more than average as an aperitif, although later it did seem to work better with Moroccan-spiced spatchcock chicken!

Next the Limited Release Pinot Noir Rosé No Added SO₂ 2009, made exclusively for retail chain Woolworths, this being composed of 95% Pinot Noir and 5% Chardonnay. Pleasant if somewhat straightforward, it appeared light in colour, light in flavour, light in body. There was a particular yeasty note on nose and palate that I found discordant while  the acidity sat apart to the point of making the wine appear sour.

Perhaps Cyrus is right that pink is more a way of thinking than a colour, and I just don’t get it. Then again, one of the most memorable bottles of wine I’ve ever had in my life was Dom Pérignon Rosé 1982, so you know, maybe I’ll come around in due course.


  1. I think David Biggs, or someone, once defined rosé as “red wine with all the goodness extracted”. Which is, of course, technically incorrect but adequately conveys his feelings. IMHO, the biggest current problem with Simonsig bubblies (and many other SA MCC’s) is inadequate lees contact.


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