Continuing my journey through the wines of Asara Wine Estate and using Dianne Bibby’s recipes with which to pair them, today I offer the Asara The Vineyard Collection Merlot 2017. Set in the Polkadraai Hills in the western edges of the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation, Asara Wine Estate has a number of factors which are of great value to their vineyards and winemaking. The rolling hills offer different altitudes, different aspects and a variety of soils, including decomposed granite. False Bay may be some way away, but it does, send cooling breezes up the valley to the vineyards, ameliorating the Summer heat and allowing for longer hang time, thus greater flavour in the resulting wine.
A plummier riper style of Merlot, the 14-year-old vines, planted in Tukulu soils are well matured with roots reaching down deep into the soil. Located on a crest, the vineyards receive good sunlight, and twice during ripening, the leaves are picked out to allow sun contact while keeping shade available.
Hand harvesting takes place in the early morning, the grapes being packed in small lug boxes and taken to the cellar for overnight cooling. Two passes are made through the vineyard to ensure that perfectly ripe grapes are picked. Once destemmed and crushed, the grapes are allowed fermentation, both alcoholic and malolactic, in stainless steel tanks. The wine was racked to medium toast 225 litre French oak barrels, 10% of which were new, the remaining 90% being 2nd and 3rd fill barrels. The wine is prepared for bottling after 14 to 16 months.
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is the classical simple Asara Vineyard Collection one. In the glass, the wine is a deep opaque plum at the heart which pales out to ruby garnet at the edges. Aromas and flavours run into each other. Red berries, plums, black cherries, oak and its concomitant spice and vanilla and an undertow of eucalyptus. Sappy, full mid palate with oak and cashmere clad tannins are all interwoven in the gently waning aftertaste. While the wine is eminently drinkable now, a couple of years of cool cellaring will reward.
A delicious glass on its own, it is made for food. Dianne Bibby’s Ten Minute Walnut and Sage Ravioli is the perfect midweek meal with the perfect match of the Asara The Vineyard Collection Merlot 2017. Click HERE for Dianne’s Recipe and a good look at her website.
Read more about Asara Wine Estate & Luxury Hotel – CLICK HERE