Asara Avalon 2012 is a great partner to Alida Ryder’s Steak & Mushroom Pot Pie…

Asara Avalon 2012

Avalon is a legendary island which is part of the legend of King Arthur, the place of mythical practices and where King Arthurs Sword Excalibur was forged. Avalon is an Asara twist on Amarone, a wine making style developed in Valpolicella, Italy. Bunches are pinched off from their life source on the vine and then desiccate condensing the flavours. Desiccation is at times completed in the cellar on racks with the use of fans. This truncates the drying out process which protects the health of the bunches.

Crushing the stalks of red grapes in preparation for desiccation

The grapes used for the Asara Avalon 2012 are Pinotage 63% and Shiraz 37%. Avalon is part of the Estate’s Speciality Range. The Pinotage grapes come from a 16-year-old vineyard high up on the farm which delivers between 3 and 4 tons a hectare. These grapes are thick skinned and healthy and provide an elegance like Amarone itself. Three weeks after the pinching of the stalks and having lost a third of their weight of water, the grapes are hand harvested in the cool early hours into small lug boxes to protect the integrity of the grapes.

Asara Hotel, view across to the Helderberg

Whole bunch sorting takes place for the second time on the cellar, the bunches undergo a gentle crushing. This is then followed by cool fermentation with punch downs of the cap of skins into the fermenting juice taking place three times a day. Once pressed the wine is matured in previous fill 80% French and 20% American oak barrels, with 30% of the barres being new. Malolactic fermentation took place spontaneously during the three-year maturation period, adds yet more complexity to the wine. The wine is then prepared for bottling.

Desiccated Grapes

The Asara Avalon 2012 from a weighty Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with a natural cork. The labelling is black on gold and very elegant. In the glass, the wine is almost Indian Ink Black at the centre with the relief of some bloodplum. This pales out to ruby at the edges. Aromas are all about bright red berries, for which I suspect the Pinotage component, black berry fruit and spiced dark plums with the oak and its concomitant spices. From entry the flavours initially show the red berries, and then they expand into full, round, bright and fresh. A good line of acidity runs through into the slowly waning aftertaste. The mid palate is just so complex and layered. Bit of coconut from the American oak. Nat King Cole sang ‘I found my love in Avalon, beside the bay.’ So did I – False Bay.

Alida Ryder’s Steak & Mushroom Pot Pie

This wine is such a big boy, it deserves big flavours. The classical South African Bredie, spicy boerewors off the braai, or indeed a dish of Bobotie. Alida Ryder’s Steak & Mushroom Pot Pie is just so perfect with the Asara Avalon 2012. The dish might be a bit wintry, but as most people love pastry, it is perfect for a cool summer’s evening. Click here for her recipe.

Alida Ryder’s first cookbook, Cook from the Heart

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