Simonsig Demi Sec Kaapse Vonkel: Delectable Decadence

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The French have historically done champagne and revolution rather well. While South Africa easily match the former these days, we’re still working on getting the latter right. But patience is a virtue, right?

In these days of doom and gloom, it brings enormous cheer to the heart to receive an unexpected drop of bubbly and macarons early on a Monday. Especially if the bubbly is the brand new, first-ever Simonsig release of their delicious Demi Sec 2015 Vintage Kaapse Vonkel. The divine macarons came from the kitchen of erstwhile Sarie food editor, the legendary Barbara Joubert – surely one of the best food stylists, writers and cooks this country has ever seen.

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Macarons by Barbara Joubert

What a match! While I’m mostly a Brut girl myself – that’s dry champagne, not butch femme – the semisweet Kaapse Vonkel found no resistance at this address. A beautiful rich gold with a hit of honey on the nose, it’s a full-bodied tipple well-suited to the South African palate. Paired with the macarons, I had a ‘Eureka!’ moment. And while I’m not about to go running naked down the street like Archimedes famously supposedly did, I can certainly deal calmly with pretty much any street march passing by my front door if previously fortified by a glass or two of Demi Sec.

I predict queues will soon be thronging the streets clamouring for Simonsig Demi Sec. And at only R135 a (very elegant) bottle, it’s a revolution that won’t break the bank.

Unlike the one we saw last week, but then you can’t have everything.

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Simonsig Demi Sec Kaapse Vonkel 2015 Vintage

Some background on the history and the tasting notes, via Emile Joubert for Simonsig:

Simonsig Estate in Stellenbosch, the pioneer of wines made in the Méthode Cap Classique style, has added a delectable demi-sec wine to its renowned Kaapse Vonkel range. The Kaapse Vonkel Demi Sec, a semi-sweet Cap Classique, joins the Kaapse Vonkel Brut and Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé in South Africa’s eminent range of sparkling wines.

The first Kaapse Vonkel was released in 1971, paving the way for the Cap Classique category which is currently one of South Africa’s leading wine styles.

The maiden Kaapse Vonkel Demi Sec 2015 is made from the classic Champagne varieties of Pinot Noir (49%), Chardonnay (48%) and Pinot Meunier (3%), all three grape cultivars having been specially vinified and aged for creating a unique Simonsig Cap Classique in a fruitier, floral and semi-sweet style.

According to Simonsig cellar master Johan Malan, Cap Classique consumers in the contemporary, fashion-conscious wine-drinking markets are displaying a penchant for sparkling wines that are not afraid to show the full, rich fruit notes and somewhat more intense perfume than the drier brut styles.

“Besides, classic French Champagnes have been and are still being made to sweeter Demi Sec styles, as the use of classic grape varieties and extended lees contact after bottle-fermentation create a semi-sweet sparkling wine that is truly delicious. A wonderful combination of fruit-complexity and life-affirming refreshment.”

The Kaapse Vonkel Demi Sec was made from the highly-rated 2015 vintage, assumed to be one of the finest in the Cape’s wine-making history. The whole bunches of hand-picked grapes were gently pressed in pneumatic presses to collect the purest juices, named cuvée. After allowing the juice to settle for two days, fermentation was done in stainless steel tanks at between 15-17°C using specially selected yeast strains. A portion of the Chardonnay was fermented in older French oak barrels to add complexity and depth to the wine.

Second-fermentation in the bottle brings the magical sea of tiny bubbles to the wine, and the wine was degorged after 16 months on the lees.

Johan says the wine’s 44 grams of residual sugar combines with the 7 gram per litre of acidity to achieve the perfect balance on the palate retaining its light and refreshing finish. This was an unexpected surprise and something he has never experienced in a Kaapse Vonkel Cap Classique. “The wine is perceptibly sweeter and the brisk acidity brings the flavours of summer fruits and caramelised bake to life. The palate is firm and satisfying, an all-round wonderful Cap Classique.” 

The sweetness enhances the subtle honey flavours making this demi sec the ideal companion for a wide range of dishes, including curries and other spicy dishes. At the end of the meal it can be paired with red berry desserts or a Crème Brûlée.

Also try it with white fruit desserts like pears in red wine sauce. The Kaapse Vonkel Demi Sec is also sublime with blue cheeses like Gorgonzola or Roquefort.

The wine is available at a recommended retail price of R135 a bottle.

Contact Barbara Joubert:

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Simonsig Demi Sec Kaapse Vonkel 2015 Vintage and macarons: your necessary revolutionary equipment


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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.