Unashamedly one of my favourite Bordeaux style red blends from the winelands is the Asara The Bell Tower 2013. Asara is situated in the rolling hills of Polkadraai in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation. Each vineyard block is carefully monitored, year on year to assess which parts of the farm produce the finest fruit to use on this flagship wine for the Estate. The ‘Big Five’ noble grapes originating in Bordeaux make up the blend as follows, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec. 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 to 5 tons per hectare. All of the vineyards are grown on slopes, mostly southwest facing, reducing grape exposure to direct sunlight. The main soil across the blocks is decomposed granite, rich in minerals and well drained.
The various vineyards are hand harvested early in the morning, placed in small lug boxes and taken to the cellar where they are separately vinified and matured and then blended before bottling. The grapes are chilled overnight and then hand sorted the following morning, destalked and crushed. The mash is cold soaked for a period of three days before fermentation. Each day, four pump overs take place. Once fermented dry, there is on skin contact for 2 weeks. The wines also undergo malolactic fermentation before being racked into French oak barrels for 18 months. The 225-litre barrel mix is as follows, 15% new, and 30% each of second and third fill oak, the remainder being 4-5 years old. The best of barrels are then blended to produce a wine of elegance, intensity and complexity. 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.
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is part of the Estate’s Speciality range and is elegant and black. The Speciality Range is one of an eclectic collection of wines ‘with a twist’. In the glass, it is a dark bloodplum at the heart which pales out to translucent ruby at the edges. The aromas are of red and black berries and crème de Cassis. The oak and its concomitant spices are in undertow and in support of the generous weighty fruit. The mid palate is generous, and the cashmere clad tannins are interwoven with the fruit, the acidity and oak in a long and generous aftertaste.
Perfect as a post prandial wine, the glass over which serious conversation will take place. It is a fine food wine and will be as much the perfect partner to a traditional Sunday Roast Lunch as it would for a well-cooked midweek supper dish. Alida Ryder’s Honey-Garlic Pork Ribeye Steaks is a great, quick and easy, and yummy supper dish. Click here for her recipe.
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I’ve found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I’ve been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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