by Allister Ashmead
Way back in 1894 the Scholz family planted a Shiraz vineyard on the banks of the North Para River in Nuriootpa to allow the family a modest farming income. At the time, little did they know that this vineyard would be highly celebrated 100+ years on, for being one of the most remarkable vineyards in Australia and the world.
Sitting on alluvial river silt, over red and brown based clays with limestone beneath, this is a vineyard that today is on the eve of its 127th birthday! It is a vineyard whose resultant wine continues to astound, to surprise and to bring joy to fine wine lovers around the globe.
The vines have gnarled, thick trunks that have withstood everything the weather gods have thrown at them (through five generations of three different families). Their root systems are deep and intricate, ensuring they can find the water and minerals needed to produce the best fruit possible, in whatever conditions each year brings us.
It is amazing to think that only a generation ago vines like these were being targeted to be bulldozed through the State Government funded Vine Pull Scheme (circa 1975 – 85). Today these vines are cherished by the Ashmead family. Our expert viticultural team works with this block to produce the best fruit that the Ashmead’s have in their incredible estate grown arsenal.
The wine these vines produce is Command Shiraz.
2017 Command Shiraz
On 1 March we launched the 2017 Command, and, as you can tell, it is a wine of which we are immensely proud.
A wetter than average growing season, which was very much welcomed by all growers in the Barossa, the vintage itself started and finished more than a month later than what had occurred in previous harvests. With some small rain events through early summer and perfect Indian summer conditions following from late February, it gave the vines ample opportunity to ripen perfectly. Whilst not a boisterous Barossan vintage, the 2017 shows remarkable composure and poise through its typical muscular frame.
As our Head of Production Jules Ashmead notes, “Command is the sum of several small batch picks to ensure we capture every part of the vineyard at optimum flavour concentration. We hand harvested this fruit over three weeks. The long and gentle ripening season, peppered with some showers after a winter flush with rain, ensured for intense fruit concentration in the finished wine, with a depth of seamless tannin yet elegance only achieved in great years.”
Like most Command vintages, the 2017 will drink well from release but will reward mid-term cellaring.
Enjoy a glass in hand
Halliday Wine Companion 2021 remarks, “96 points. This does command respect thanks to the fruit coming off 123yo vines and the care with it from that moment right through to the winemaking. It is powerful and divine. Lush with the dark fruit coated with chocolate, pepper and coffee. The palate feels all velvety with the tannins neatly placed, the oak integrated and with a glass in hand, a sense that all’s well with the world.”
Sounds like something we all need right now.
750mL bottles and gift boxed magnum 1.5L bottles are now available online and in Cellar Door. This vintage will also be hitting the shelves of great wine retailers and wine lists around the country soon.
Story from our newsletter, the Elderton Buzz – March 2021 edition