The Bell Tower on the Asara Wine Estate and Luxury Hotel is one of the iconic pieces of architecture on the Estate. It has a function, it rings at 10h00 in the morning and 14h30 in the afternoon to tell guests that the fresh baked scones have arrived at The Deli for morning or afternoon tea. The Asara Bell Tower 2013 is one of the speciality range of Asara Wines, an eclectic collection of wines that represent a twist on regional specialities. Niche and unique, the range reflects the quality of an estate whose vinous history dates back to 1691. Such fun to have a change of vintage of The Bell Tower, and see the improvement, not only in the age of the vines, but new winemaking tweaks – and still to release an aged wine which is ready for drinking and very accessible and age-worthy is something one seldom finds in the Cellar Doors of the winelands.
The make-up of the blend of Asara The Bell Tower 2013 is a classical weighty, left bank Bordeaux style wine, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec. Produced from the best fruit on the farm and matured in specially selected barrels. The blend is led by Cabernet Sauvignon and in this wine, it contributes the depth of colour and fruit-rich elegance that made it so popular in Bordeaux. Each vineyard block on the Asara property is assigned a rating according to its quality. Those that perform consistently with fruit of the highest quality are set aside for inclusion in The Bell Tower blend.
The vineyards are located at higher altitudes, from 120m to 200m above sea level. The resulting cooler climate extends fruit ripening, and the hanging time on the vine. Judicious watering and canopy regimes work in collaboration with sequential harvesting to further prolong the fruit development phase. The parent rock across the blocks is decomposed granite, a soil type rich in minerality, well drained and contributing to the development of elegance. The Malbec vines are planted at 170m on high Tukulu soils that enable the vines to progress to budding easily. The vineyards are among the oldest on the property at 20 years of age, and the lowest yielding at 4-5 tons per hectare. All of the vineyards are grown on slopes, mostly southwest facing, reducing grape exposure to direct sunlight.
Harvesting takes place in the early hours of morning into small lugs for rapid transfer to cellar where they are separately vinified. The grapes are cooled overnight to 5°C, hand sorted in whole bunches and de-stemmed. Cold maceration with the berries in their juice, takes place over three days, then fermentation at 25-28°C. Four pump overs are scheduled per day during fermentation, and extended contact with the skin after fermentation occurs for 14 days. Malolactic fermentation follows in the stainless steel tanks. The wines are then racked into French oak barrels, each variety still being kept separately. The wine matures for 18 months in 225l French barriques – 15% new, and 30% each of second and third fill oak, the remainder being 4-5 years old. At the end of the period of wood maturation, the best of the barrels are then blended and the wine is prepared for bottling.
It looks like
Bottled under natural cork in a Bordeaux shaped bottle with an elegant black label with an illustration of the Bell Tower on it. In the glass, it is a deep dark bloodplum at the core which pales out to ruby at the edges.
It smells like
The dark blackcurrant, Crème de Cassis, blackberries. Undertow of oak and its concomitant spices.
It tastes like
Elegant, intense and complex. Many layers of fruit and rich, round fruit, interwoven with ripe tannins. The wine is sparky and alive from entry, fills the mid palate. Interwoven into the long-lasting aftertaste are the acidity, the ripe tannins, the vanilla from the oak. Very satisfying glass.
It’s good with
As a glass on its own with a cheesy pastry snack, or good biltong with a small sharp knife. It is, of course, a red wine meat, though subtle enough to pair with a hearty mushroom risotto well flavoured with porcini. A good wedge of Dalewood Fromage Huguenot with a couple of crackers would be a lovely partner.
The Asara Luxury Hotel has a magnificent Gin Bar, The Sansibar which has a selection of over 450 gins, possibly the largest in the southern hemisphere and a large range of tonics. The Sansibar Bistro also offers an eclectic menu, many of the dishes cooked to order in their wood fired oven.
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