It’s a Friday afternoon on a winter’s day in Stellenbosch. The sun is shining and attempting to deceive us all with its rays as the breeze remains as chilly as ever and whips through the magnificent oaks lining the driveway into Simonsig Estate.
Because I’m not a wine drinker, it seems quite strange that I would find myself on a wine estate 40 minutes from Cape Town on a cold day. Parking in front of the tiny blocks of the Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Semillon cultivars which are beginning to sprout new life, my husband and I make our way past the shiny barrels of this estate’ s most prized offerings such as their Kaapse Vonkel.
Heralded as South Africa’s first Methode Cap Classique, this was just a part of the legacy left behind by the late Frans Malan. The leaves rustle and fall from the giant oak trees covering the green lawns and an information board tells the story of a Liza van Niekerk who married Frans Malan, whose children are now the custodians of this estate. Like so many current owners of wine estates in the Cape, Frans Malan is a direct descendant of a French Huguenot who settled here.
After the reminders of traditions passed down and times passed, I was confronted with a modern, sleek and trendy entrance to the Cuvée Restaurant. As the doors slid open the new world stood alongside the bygone era of sepia photos with wooden and veld chairs. A vintage sketch of the Simonsig mountain range alluded to the estate’s name and its position in view of this majestic range. Shiny, silver balls hung over the flowers and wine on the entrance table and above the bar. I encountered the first of many, truly delightful works of art depicting zebra, lions and other wildlife on white canvas. Yellow lemons filled a bowl and magazines sat atop a restored side table.
The contrast of dark and light played amongst the elegant décor and furnishings within the restaurant, but the most welcoming element on that day was the fireplace. Midday light came in through the windows and fell on the white, leather ottomans, a red wall with a leopard painting and crystal chandeliers suspended over a black table and matching chairs.
Once Cuvee Royale bubbly arrived followed by starters, the infusion of yellow colour on the couch and chic black and white stripe walls all but faded into the background as the gastronomic menu was served.
The Carrot Risotto with white chocolate sauce and blue cheese all but rendered me speechless with its sweet and savoury mix and I had to give my husband a taste so he too could understand. Whilst I enjoyed a perfectly done beef fillet with oxtail truffles, carrot and dauphinoise potatoes and veal jus, Vaughan tried and enjoyed the rabbit and pancetta roulade.
The waitress persuaded me to try to the Chocoholic for dessert, a devilish flourless chocolate cake with caramel chocolate and dark chocolate mousse with white chocolate ganache, milk and cocoa nib ice cream. The chocolate seemed a bit overwhelming for me at the time, but we swopped halfway so I could enjoy a nibble of his crème brulee with a ginger biscuit.
Toasty beside the fire and gaining insights into the restaurant and its famous bubbly from the lovely host, Annamarie, it was as relaxed and fulfilling as a winters day on a wine estate can get. Our day of bliss ended with a Land Rover experience on a trail through the vineyards.
To reserve a table at Cuvée call +27 21 8884932 or visit www.simonsig.co.za
You can find Simonsig north-west of Stellenbosch on the Kromme Rhee Road between the R44 and the R304.
Our Simonsig experience was sponsored, but all views expressed are our own.