Asara The Bell Tower 2012 & Alida Ryder’s Bolognese Pasta Bake – 12.01.2017

Asara The Bell Tower 2012

I was out at Asara Wine Estate and Hotel today with a visitor. It was the most idyllic day and the views over the vineyards and east to Stellenbosch and the Helderberg just beyond description. We do live in a lovely country.

Tasting the wines with the winemaking team was, as always, a special experience.  Tasting the Asara The Bell Tower 2012, is something to which I always look forward. This flagship wine is part of Asara’s Speciality Range which includes some knockout wines.

A view of Asara’s Vineyards

A beautifully constructed blend in the style of Bordeaux. The Estate is blessed with all five of the classic Bordeaux grapes and the wine is made up of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 105 Malbec and 7% Petit Verdot.  The grapes are all separately vinified and the best barrels are selected after maturation for the final blend.

The grapes are bunch sorted after overnight cooling.  Destemming and crushing then takes place and this is followed by with a cold soak on the skins for a week to start the extraction of colour and flavour.  Fermentation proceeds during which time pump overs take place four times a day to gently extract all one wants from the fermenting grapes in terms of colour, flavour and tannins.

Always unusual floral displays in the hotel reception

Post fermentation maceration on the skin takes place for a month before final pressing.  The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks before being taken to 225 litre French oak barrels for 18 months.  The barrels are made up of 15% new, 30% each of second and third fill barrels and the remainder of 4th and 5th fill barrels. The wine is then prepared for bottling.

In the hands of the harvester, fine grapes…

It looks like
Elegant black label on a Bordeaux shaped bottle.  In the glass, a deep, opaque Satsuma plum red which pales out to ruby garnet at the edges.

It smells like
Classic Bordeaux whiffs, blueberries and black currants. Toasty oak in undertow.

It tastes like
Apart from brilliant? Fabulous fruit from entry, frisky red berries, roadside brambles, cassis.  Wonderful harmony and balance of fruit, acidity, full mouthfeel, soft tannins and a long and gently waning aftertaste. Truly superb mouthful.

Alida Ryder’s Bolognese Pasta Bake

It’s good with
This is definitely a food wine. Perhaps even the after-dinner bottle which you enjoy with some dark Belgian chocolate and a modicum pf philosophising. It’s really your choice as to what you pair it with meat wise. It also goes brilliantly with vegetarian dishes, full of flavour from aubergine, mushrooms and parmesan cheese. If you’re looking for a great bottle you could serve midweek as a supper wine, Alida Ryder’s Bolognese Pasta Bake is a gem. Click here for her recipe.

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