Asara Wine – 2 beauties from Polkadraai…

Asara Wine Estate & Luxury Hotel, Winery at right back

Asara Wine Estate and Luxury Hotel owes as much to its magical surroundings for both its enterprises, a world class winery and a luxury hotel. Situated on the hills of Polkadraai in the western parts of the Wine Appellation which takes its name from the nearby university town of Stellenbosch, the hotel is situated on the banks of one of the Estate’s large water reserves with views of the Mountains all the way from Paarl right down to Cape Hangklip. A luxury Hotel offering all the services international and local travellers want. The hotel boasts the largest gin bar in the country – and possible the southern hemisphere with over 350 gins. Also the Sansibar Bistro offering a wide variety of dishes through salads and pizzas to some pretty impressive dishes cooked while you wait in the hotels post box red wood-fired oven. Today I want to tell you about two interesting wines, each of which has a classical little Asara Wine twist. First, we will take a look at a wine from Asara’s Speciality Range, The Asara Wine Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc 2014 and then the delicious Asara Wine Vineyard Collection Cape Fusion 2015.

Asara Wine Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc 2014

The grapes for the Asara Wine Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc 2014 come from a single vineyard block planted on an east-facing slope with less sun exposure and allows for a longer hang time for the bunches, which adds great flavour to the final wine. During harvest one year, this single vineyard had ripened beyond requirements to make a dry wine, the bunches were cut back to one per vine. The almost raisined berry bunches were picked and the dried on mats in the sun for 2 to 3 weeks, usually straw mats, which caramelises the sugar on the sun-exposed side while the other side retains its acidity. The grapes are whole bunch pressed and the resulting thick and unctuous juice is taken to French oak barrels for fermentation. When this process is over, the wine is racked off the barrel in order to retain freshness and not allow the wood to do anything but support the fabulous fruit. The wine is then prepared for bottling.

Sauvignon Blanc Grapes desiccating on a bed of straw

It looks like
Bottled under natural cork with a wax coating in a 375ml Alsatian Flute with an elegant black and gold label. In the glass, it is a rich golden straw, so typical of this type of wine.

It smells like
Honey, soft dried apricots, desiccated pineapple and sweet tropical limes.

It tastes like
From entry, rich, unctuous with a bright clear thread of zippy acidity which so perfectly counterbalances the ripe raisiny wine. Poached pineapple and ripe mango and melon fruits. Long ending with the fruit, acidity and judicious oaking all interwoven and in harmony.

Asara Deli Macarons

It’s good with
Well chilled, it makes a perfect ending to a meal, perhaps with chunks of preserved fruits. It is so good with a rich chicken or duck liver parfait.  Good too with the sort of bakes, cakes, chocolates and pastries you can buy at Asara’s Deli. Nice late afternoon glass.

Listen to my 60 second Fine Music Radio Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc 2014 podcast – CLICK HERE

Asara Wine Vineyard Collection Cape Fusion 2015

The second wine is The Asara Wine Vineyard Collection Cape Fusion 2015. The term Cape Fusion indicates a percentage of Pinotage, in a wine usually referred to as a Cape Blend with no further requirement other that it contains a 30 % Pinotage. But here, Winemaker Danielle le Roux and her team, team work is very much part of the Asara culture, have blended the Pinotage with Shiraz and Malbec to create a fresh, elegant middleweight glass of deliciousness. Definitely a reflection of the Aristotelian theory of ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’

Asara Winemaker, Danielle le Roux [centre] with Janette van Lill and Chrisitaan Nigrini

All three varieties are grown in soils which encourage deep colour and sappy fruit. Malbec is Bordeaux in lineage and the Argentinians have taken it to great heights by making it almost the national grape of their country. Pinotage, as we know, is a South African creation, which as a grape loves French oak for maturation which brings out, in undertow, ‘mocha’ aromas which support the fruit which usually reflects more of the red fruit of its Pinot Noir parent. The Shiraz, from a single vineyard of water restricted grapes, adds a robustness with its spicy plum flavours. Once ripe, the grapes are brought to the Asara Wine Cellar where they are destalked and crushed and then vinified separately. The Pinotage is matured on French oak staves which with malolactic fermentation develops a delicious creaminess in the final blend. The Malbec and the Shiraz are matured in a selection of previous fill 225 litre French oak barrels, the best of which are chosen for the wine. After blending the wine was prepared for bottling.

Perfect Malbec grapes ripening on the vine

It looks like
Bottled under natural cork in a Bordeaux shaped bottle with the elegant Asara Wine Vineyard Collection minimalist label. In the glass, it is a deep bloodplum at the core which pales out to a youthful purple garnet at the edges.

It smells like
Plums, red [like raspberry and red currant] and black berries] mulberries and roadside brambles]. The oak in undertow supporting the fruit.

It tastes like
From entry the wine is rich and sappy, full at midpalate, redolent of berries and plums. Sweet bright fruit in a dry long aftertaste in which all the components are perfectly interwoven.

Sansibar Bistro’s Parma Ham, Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onions & Wild Rocket Pizza

It’s good with
This is a good glass on its own with a small sharp knife and a stick of good biltong while discussing really important stuff like rugby scores. As for food matches, there are any number of dishes at Asara’s Mise-en-Place Restaurant [re-opening in October] and the Sansibar Bistro that will do well. One of my current favourites from the wood fired over is the delicious Parma Ham, Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onions and Wild Rocket Pizza. Lovely lunchtime dish taken with a fabulous view and a bottle of the delicious Asara Vineyard Collection Cape Fusion 2015.

Listen to my 60 second Fine Music Radio podcast about the Cape Fusion 2015CLICK HERE

Read more about Asara Wine Estate and Luxury Hotel – CLICK HERE

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