We lived on our parent’s wine farm, so life was of wide open skies and lots of space. Yet quite regularly my Dad would bundle us into the car and we would go off for an afternoon drive, with commentary. Chapman’s Peak [better than the Amalfi coast], Bottelary Road [“I worked on these farms when I was a student”], and the Polkadraai Hills, because he loved the geographical formations and, as a wine farmer, the different aspects. Asara Merlot is grown on these slopes.
The Asara Vineyard Collection Merlot 2014, continues the tradition of the Estate’s direction to produce premium quality Merlot. Danielle le Roux, who heads up the Asara Winemaking Team, leads the HalloMerlot Group which is striving to produce better and better Merlot.
Sitting on a crest, the 14-year-old vineyards receive excellent exposure to the sun. The rich Tukulu soils provided good flavours. The grapes, averaging 8 tons per hectare, were hand harvested into small lug boxes. Two passes were made though the vineyards in the ideal ripeness to ensure that the grapes were taken off when perfectly ripe.
Cooled overnight, the grapes were pressed and the juices taken to fermentation. Then followed, for 14-16 months, the French oak fermentation in 225 litre barrels, of which 10% were new and the balance 2nd and 3rd fill. The wine was then prepared for bottling.
It looks like
Bottled in the elegant Bordeaux shaped bottle under a natural cork closure. In the glass, it is a jewel bright deep ruby at the core which pales out to garnet at the meniscus.
It smells like
Red berries, bloodplums and sweet brown spices.
It tastes like
Layer upon layers of cherries and red berries and ripe plums. Vanilla spice from the oak barrels and a hint of mint and dried eucalyptus leaves.
It’s good with
Merlot is usually the go to glass in restaurants for diners wanting a glass of red. It is easy to drink and hits the mark. As a food wine, it is such a companionable glass, fitting in well with most red meats, even duck, guinea fowl or chicken. One of the dishes with which I have enjoyed this wine is the Melanzane alla Parmigiana served at the Sansibar on the Asara Estate. A perfect vegetarian dish baked in their wood fired oven. Or you could go the other way and cook Ina Paarman’s Flattie in a Frying Pan. Her Sundried Tomato Sauce is so good. Click here for her recipe.
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