Stellenbosch is unquestionably Cabernet Sauvignon country and Polkadraai specifically is known for its solidly structured red varieties. Its powerful yet elegant wines owe in large part to a mesoclimate that’s cooler than surrounding areas; False Bay being in close proximity at 12-15km away. For Cabernet Sauvignon to achieve the flavour intensity for which it is famed, sun exposure must be given to the bunch zone, but in a controlled way. At Asara the vineyard aspect restricts direct sun exposure to the grapes to once per day. Midday rays are reflected from the surface of a dam, contributing a gentler ripening. Excessive foliage growth, a Cabernet characteristic, is contained by planting to Oakleaf soils that are well drained, concentrating the vineyard’s efforts on the grapes. An adjacent block hosted by moisture-rich Tukulu supplies a natural water source that causes the Oakleaf vines to search for water by extending their root base. Asara’s Vineyard range stays true to vineyard of origin by means of minimal cellar handling. The property is located in the Polkadraai, whose primary vineyard influence is granite based soils and undulating hills.
The dominant Cabernet Sauvignon block is southwest facing, on a 50% Oakleaf, 50% Tukulu base. Located at an altitude of 150m above the sea, the vineyard attracts a cooling maritime breeze. Being more mature, at 16 years of age, vineyard vigour is naturally restrained, aided by the use of Oakleaf soils which are well drained. One vineyard block receives additional sun exposure in the form of reflection from a dam; this resulting in richly flavoursome dark berry characters. The average yield per hectare is 4.5 tons.
About the harvest:
The grapes are harvested in the cool of early morning for preservation of flavour.
Small lugs are used for rapid removal to cellar where the cold chain is maintained. The grapes are whole-bunch sorted and de-stemmed; 50% are crushed, the rest remaining in bunches for optimal fruit preservation. Cold maceration ensues for five days and fermentation takes place in 10 litre open top vats for one and a half weeks, punched down four times per day.
Temperatures reach up to 30°C. The grapes are pressed and malolactic fermentation occurs in tank. The wine matures in 225 litre French oak barriques; 10% new and the remainder 4-5 years old, for a period of 18 months.
Ripe, red cherries predominate on the nose. A fresh, juicy entry of red and dark berries on a mouth-watering palate of substance and weight. Sweet and sour berries and cherry tobacco to finish.
Serve with vegetarian dishes like a hearty Ratatouille or alongside a Four Seasons Calzone, this wine is also an excellent companion to a venison pie or Coq-au-vin.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is ready for drinking now, but will develop and benefit from at least three years of careful cellaring.