Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The launch of Ntsiki Biyela's Aslina range of wines at the US Consulate General

Ntsiki Biyela, originally from KwaZulu Natal, has been the winemaker at Stellekaya for the last 13 years. She was the first South African black woman wine maker. She trained in Viticulture & Oenology at Stellenbosch University and worked stages in Tuscany and Bordeaux. At Stellekaya she produced four star Platter wines and won awards. Her dream was always to make her own wines and this she has now done. Aslina is her tribute to her grandmother (it is her grandmother's name) who was her inspiration and guide as she grew up. She was awarded Woman Winemaker of the year in 2009. It is an exciting venture. She continues as a consultant to Stellekaya. She is involved in many wine industry competitions as a judge i.e. SAA, Diners Club Winemaker of the Year, IWSC and Nederburg Auction. We were invited to the launch of these wines held at the American Consul Generals residence in Bishops Court
Our welcome drink on the terrace was the 2016 Aslina Chardonnay. Rich and golden, full of peaches and citrus flavours, with wood in the background with some stony minerality
Canap├ęs of seared prawns with pineapple and red onion salsa which went well with the Chardonnay
Tiny crisp fig, gorgonzola and thyme puff pastry tartlets with a balsamic glaze
Beggar’s purses stuffed with mushroom duxelle
The students who served us are all students at the Pinotage Youth Development Academy; they were a lovely bunch. Ntsiki sits on the board of the Academy
Taking our seats for dinner
The U.S. Consul General in Cape Town Teddy Taylor opened proceedings by introducing Ntsiki. She took part in The African Woman Entrepreneurs Programme in the USA and it has changed her life, encouraging her to start her own brand. She met other International Visitor Leadership Programme Mandela Washington fellows and Fulbright scholars who mentored, supported and encouraged her. This programme is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Ntsiki Biyela told us about her journey and the courage it took. Why did she start her own business? To work with the community. When she was in the USA on the AWE Programme her cohorts made her face an intervention. They told her to stop taking the drug! she was puzzled, she doesn't take any. Stop taking the salary they said, that is the drug. She realised it was time to do her own thing
Chef Adolphus Stuart who was visiting from Texas where Ntsiki met him. He was involved with Chef Stacy Lightfoot in producing the food for the event - which they said met in mid-Atlantic!
We had a great time chatting to him about the food, his visit and his career; he is very amusing and fun. He said Chef Stacy had taught him some new dishes and new tricks
The unusual starter of tender fried aubergine, marinated in pomegranate served with crumbed herb cheese balls, a pea and mint sauce, crisp onions, pomegranate aruls and topped off with a while wheat crisp and melt in the mouth croute. We drank the Aslina Sauvignon Blanc with this, a nose of herbs, figs, grass and a hint of honeyed grapes, full on the palate with good Sauvignon pyrazines, crisp acidity and length with a flinty minerality on the end
Chef Stacy with the main course
It was Asian braised pork belly with cranberry jus, confit dug leg, asparagus, a rich butternut and Tahini puree, garlic baby potatoes and caramelised baby beetroot. We drank the Aslina 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon with this course. Pure cassis and incense wood on the nose. A wine in waiting, gathering itself together for the future, with room to grow. Rich red berries, vanilla oak, stony minerality and some chalky tannins. It went very well with the rich main course
And so to dessert. A lovely spiced red wine poached pear stuffed with dark chocolate and dates and enrobed in toasted pistachio nuts and served with a vanilla bean custard
This was served with the UMSASANE 2015 a Bordeaux Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. See our Wine of the Week. Yes it was that good

We think these wines show Ntsiki's skill and huge potential. One day we are sure, she will have her own farm. At the moment the grapes are all sourced from very good Stellenbosch farms

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