Asara Wine Estate and Luxury Hotel is situated on the rolling Polkadraai Hills, west of the town of Stellenbosch and bang in the middle of its eponymous wine appellation. Asara Vineyard Collection Chardonnay Lightly Wooded 2015, and the previous vintages have been much influenced by the various aspects, soil types and variations in mesoclimates.
Chardonnay on the vine
The grapes for the Asara Vineyard Collection Chardonnay 2015 come from two facing blocks on opposite sides of a dam on southwest- and northeast-facing slopes. The resultant wine has a fullness of mid-palate in a fuller, riper style, and the elegance of freshness and minerality that the newer style dictates. A light touch of oak, and contact with the lees contributes further complexity with barely perceptible toasty, nutty notes. Asara’s Vineyard range stays true to vineyard of origin by means of minimal cellar handling.
The vines are planted to Vilafonté soils, acidic, nutrient and well drained, contributing to consistency of grape quality. The vineyards are an average of 16 years of age and yield an even handed 5-6 tons per hectare.
The Asara Winemaking Team, Janette van Lill, Danielle le Roux & Christiaan Nigrini
Hand harvesting takes place in the early morning when the ambient temperature is still cool. They are placed into small lug boxes for rapid transfer to the Winemaking team in the Asara Cellar under Winemaker Danielle le Roux. The grapes are cooled overnight, sorted, whole-bunch pressed and the juice cooled again and allowed to cold settle. After three days the juice is transferred, 70% to tanks and 30% to French oak barrels. The pickings are separately vinified for later blending. The oak barrels used included 10% new barrels made from French tight grain oak barrels and the balance previous fill barrels. Tight grain leads to the slower release of tannins and gentler integration as the wine matures on the lees for five months before blending and preparation for bottling.
It looks like
Bottled under screw cap in a Burgundy shaped bottle with the elegant simple Asara Vineyard Collection livery. In the glass, a pale golden straw with lime green flashes.
It smells like
Sliced fresh pears, ripe white fleshed peaches with an undertow of gentle oak and its concomitant spices.
It tastes like
From entry, there is generous fruit varying from fresh pear, white fleshed peach, piel de sapo melon and an abundance of citrus, from windfall oranges to sweet tropical limes. There is a gentle undertow of the oak showing its toasty flavours. Really good mid palate and a long gently waning and very sappy ending.
It’s good with
If you are close to Asara, there are any number of dishes on the menus which would go with this wine. It’s a sipper rather than a quaffer. Will go as well with the traditional Sunday Roast Chicken as it will with a simple mid-week supper. Tamsin Snyman’s recently published book 7 Colours of Fish has a recipe in it developed by Lucky Star’s brand ambassador, Chef Kabelo Segone. It is a Pilchard-Stuffed Cabbage Roll Bake and is a perfect supper dish with this wine.
Pilchard-Stuffed Cabbage Roll Bake
2 x 400 g cans Lucky Star Pilchards in Tomato Sauce
12–14 large cabbage leaves
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced, and leaves reserved, for garnish
2 tsp (10 ml) paprika
1 tsp (5 ml) ground coriander
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
1 tsp (5 ml) barbecue spice
¼ cup (60 ml) chutney
2 carrots, peeled and grated
250 g baby marrows, grated
1 cup (250 ml) cooked rice
1 x 410 g can pureed tomatoes mixed with ¼ cup (60 ml) water
¼ cup (60 ml) breadcrumbs
1 cup (250 ml) mozzarella cheese, grated
Drop the cabbage leaves into boiling salted water; cover and cook for 3 minutes or until pliable. Remove the thick spines and cut the leaves in half.
Preheat the oven to 190 °C.
In a medium saucepan, heat a little vegetable oil. Add the onions, garlic and celery to the pan and allow to cook over a medium heat until softened and golden. Add the spices and chutney, stirring to prevent any sticking to the pan. Remove from heat and stir in the carrots, baby marrows, cooked rice and pilchards with sauce, mixing well. Set aside to cool slightly.
Grease a 26-cm x 30-cm ovenproof dish. Add a spoonful of pilchard mixture to each half cabbage leaf, roll each one up and place neatly in the dish (you should get three rows in the dish). Top with the diluted pureed tomatoes, breadcrumbs and mozzarella. Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes and finish under the grill for 2 minutes to brown the crumb layer.
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