Today's LCBO find takes us to South Africa with the Aslina Chardonnay 2021. Much like its maker, this wine has so much to say and stories to tell in the glass.
Let's get into it by first talking about the winemaker, Ntsiki Biyela.
The Story Behind Aslina Wines
I first heard of Aslina Wines just after the murder of George Floyd. There was an effort by the LCBO and a few members of the wine industry in general to bring wines made by black winemakers into the market. The Aslina Umsasane (red Bordeaux blend) was brought into my home market and sold in stores, and that is how I learned of Ntsiki Biyela and the incredible force that she is.
Ntsiki Biyela is a winemaker whose remarkable journey has broken barriers and shattered stereotypes in the wine industry. Born and raised in Mahlabathini, a small village in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, Biyela's path to winemaking was unexpected and exceptional. She had spent a year working as a domestic worker while looking for a scholarship that would propel her into a career. That's when she learned that scholarships to Stellenbosch University, one of South Africa's most prestigious wine schools, were being offered, and she applied and was successful.
Biyela's talent and passion for winemaking quickly became evident during her studies, earning her the admiration and respect of her peers and professors.
“The winemaker I worked with as a student was so passionate about what he was doing that at that moment, I said, ‘I want to be like him.’”
said Ntsiki Biyela in an interview with Food&Wine.
After completing her education, she joined Stellekaya Winery in Stellenbosch, making her the first Black female winemaker in South Africa—a significant achievement in an industry traditionally dominated by white men.
Throughout her career, Biyela has remained dedicated to crafting wines of exceptional quality while also serving as an inspiration and mentor to aspiring winemakers, especially women and people of colour. Her commitment to excellence has earned her numerous accolades and honours, including being named South Africa's Woman Winemaker of the Year—an achievement that further solidifies her place as a leader in the wine industry.
Ntsiki's grandmother was the guiding light in her life and as a result, the name Aslina is in the matriarch’s honour.
Biyela continues to make a difference in the world of wine. She currently sits on the board of directors for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, and partial proceeds of her wine sales go back into the organization to help up future black winemakers with scholarships and the like.
About Aslina Chardonnay 2021
The Aslina Chardonnay 2021 has so much happening on the nose; between citrus, apple, florals and minerality it's inviting and exciting. On the palate, tart acidity, melon, honey, and salinity play a role.
We let this wine sit for an hour in the glass as it is still young. Going back to the wine brought out so many spectacular aromas and flavours. This is definitely one that you can lay down and come back to in two years.
The Aslina Chardonnay 2021 can be found at the LCBO vintages for $22.95.
We will be featuring this wine at Black Grapes!