Asara #11 The Bell Tower 2013, very good with Dianne Bibby’s Best Marinated Rib-Eye Steak…

Asara Bell Tower 2013

The Bell Tower on Asara, right next to the Deli, serves a major purpose twice daily when it rings out to inform guests that a fresh batch of scones has arrived at the Deli. But to be a bit more serious, The Bell Tower is the name of one of the Estate’s Speciality Range wines and in a way is a flagship for the Winery. The blend for the Asara Bell Tower 2013 is made up of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot,9% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec. All grapes grown on the hills of Polkadraai in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation which offer many altitudes and many aspects. Most of the vines are over 20 years old.

The Asara Vineyards and Irrigation Reservoir, The Helderberg on the horison

Each vineyard block on Asara is assigned a rating according to its quality. Those that perform consistently with fruit of the highest quality are set aside for inclusion in Asara Bell Tower 2013 blend.

Cabernet Sauvignon, the major grape in the Asara The Bell Tower 2013

When the point of ideal ripeness occurs, the grapes are harvested early, as the sun comes over the mountains on the horizon. They are packed into small lugs boxes for rapid removal to the cellar where they are cooled overnight and then the whole bunches are sorted and destalked, cold maceration takes place and then the different varieties are separately vinified for blending after oak maturation. Four pump overs a day take place during fermentation. Malolactic fermentation takes place in tanks and then the wines are racked to 225 litre French oak barrels. 15% of these were new barrels with 30% each of second and third fill oak, with the balance being 4 and 5 years old. After this maturation, the best of barrels are blended to produce a wine of elegance, intensity and complexity. The wine is then prepared for bottling.

Malbec, the ‘forgotten’ grape of Bordeaux, the minor player in the blend

From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is an elegant black with the image of The Bell Tower. In the glass, the wine is a deep bloodplum red at the heart which pales out to ruby at the edges. The aromas, as expected are of dark fruits, berries – particularly Blackcurrants, cherries and plums. These follow through on to the palate which is generous with an undertow of well applied oak and its concomitant spice and vanilla. The overall effect is that the wine is full bodied, berried, with silky tannins, the oak, the refreshing acidity all beautifully interwoven in a long and gently waning aftertaste. This wine is a laster and will reward after a couple of years of cool cellaring.

Dianne Bibby’s Best Marinated Rib-Eye Steak

The Asara Bell Tower 2013 is made for food. Do chill it for about 30 minutes before serving. As is usual, I use one of Dianne Bibby’s recipes to pair with an Asara Wine. Dianne Bibby’s Best Marinated Rib-Eye Steak is the bee’s knees as a choice for the wine. Click HERE for Dianne’s recipe.

Dianne Bibby, Johannesburg food stylist, recipe developer & food blogger

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