If you launch a single-variety Cabernet Sauvignon at R1 375 a bottle as Simonsig did recently in the shape of The Garland 2008, what does it say about your flagship Bordeaux-style red blend? “Cabernet Sauvignon has to come from the right address,” says cellarmaster Johan Malan. “It’s got a long list of requirements [to be excellent]. It’s too cold in Elim and probably too hot in Robertson.” And so blending, involving the combination of varieties with different but complementary characteristics to achieve greater complexity.
Simonsig has been making a Bordeaux-style red blend called Tiara since 1990 and the 2011 vintage is soon to be released at a price of R245 a bottle. To mark the occasion, a tasting of the 1995, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and finally the new vintage.
My stand-out wine of the day was the 1995, a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot, abv 12.97%. Wonderfully complex with red and black fruit, violets, turned earth, forest floor, tomato cocktail and a touch of leather. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and still possessing some tannic grip. Proof once again what a fabulous vintage this was… Score: 93/100.
As for the other wines, they were all more or less accomplished but Malan and red winemaker Debbie Thompson conceded following a commercial imperative to make the wine richer and riper.
The 2011, which won double gold at Veritas last year, is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. It was matured for 16 months in 96% French oak and 4% American, a total of 60% new. Abv 14.65%.
Still very primary, the nose shows red and black berries plus attractive oak character On the palate, luscious fruit, bright acidity and relatively soft tannins. It’s all very deftly done but I find it quite easy although perhaps that’s precisely what Malan and Thompson intended.