Last week I received an invitation from Michael Olivier, the well known South African food and wine commentator, to join him for a wine tasting and lunch at the award winning Asara Wine Estate and Hotel just outside Stellenbosch, 35 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD.
It was an intimate get together, the kind I love the most, as it allowed me the privilege of getting up close and personal with Michael, fellow guest Julian Richfield and winery manager Samantha Wiid. At the tasting centre we sipped memorable red and white wines that offered up aromas of ripe fruits, berries, mocha, peach and spices, to mention but a few. I’m not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, and I discovered a lot of things that day, like the white cabernet – a white wine made entirely of red grapes. Who knew? When it was initially introduced by Asara, it was a South African first. Today, with its funky label and the distinctive black and white checks on the bottle neck, it stands out on retail shelves and is marketed as one of Asara’s entry level wines. It’s delicious and as Julian pointed out, “it may be commercial, but it’s serious stuff”. My favourite of the day was the Cape Fusion, a very popular wine (pinotage, shiraz and malbec cultivars) that has gone from a 10,000 to a 150,000 bottle run…that says it all right?
The original farm that was to become Asara dates back to 1691 and over the centuries it has been under the ownership of several families. In 2000, Verdun as it had become known was bought by Markus Rahmann who later acquired the adjoining Morgenster, bringing the property up to 180 hectares in size. The estate was given the name Asara, a word that represents three African gods of the earth, sun and sky – Astar, Asis and Asase – symbols of the balance and harmony of nature which is reflected in Asara wines.
The estate also encompasses a hotel with 40 rooms in three wings, a small deli, a courtyard that offers tea, coffee, pastries and cake, and two restaurants – the Sansibar, where I had a delish thin base pizza with salmon, capers and slivers of red onion, and the brand new Mise en Place that I’ve yet to visit (hint). The Sansibar gin lounge boasts the largest collection of gins this side of the equator. I tried Warner Edwards’ Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin, prepared by Joseph and so sublime.
The Asara ethos is to observe farming practices that protect the environment and encourage bio-diversity and the estate is a member of the Wine and Agricultural Trade Association (WIETA), a not-for-profit, voluntary association that promotes the fair and ethical treatment of workers in the wine industry through a code of good practice.
Take a drive out to Asara…summer means long lazy days sipping wine with views over valleys, vineyards and blue mountains.
021 888 8000 | www.asara.co.za for all info about the estate, hotel, and dining options | Facebook
I leave you with this wine hilarity…
Until next time,