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Like the Command block, which is an amazing resource to the Elderton Estate, the Ashmead block has consistently produced small parcels of excellent quality fruit. The vineyard was almost destroyed in 1997 to make way for higher yielding vines, however the family made the decision to promote the vineyard to a higher destiny – thus the Ashmead.
The 2017 is the eighteenth release of this unparalleled wine, and is a superior example of Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon aged in a mix of new French Oak Hogsheads from about 8 different coopers. The Elderton Estate is not unfamiliar with premium Cabernets, having won more than 8 trophies for this varietal including the 1993 Jimmy Watson Trophy.
The Elderton Vineyard, originally planted by the Scholz family in 1894, was planted predominantly with Shiraz; however in the early 1940s, Samuel Elderton Tolley (the owner at that time) decided to diversify and thus established some of the earliest planted Cabernet Sauvignon in the Barossa Valley.
There are two blocks on the property that we believe to be planted in the 1940s, and both of these offer an outstanding viticultural resource to Elderton. Year in, year out, they both manage to produce an outstanding quality (albeit very small) crop of densely coloured and richly flavoured grapes.
Today, we believe them to be amongst some of the oldest plantings anywhere in the world.
Unfortunately, it is suffering greatly from the vine disease Eutypa (commonly known as dead arm), which has no known cure. As a result of this, yields are always naturally low; always less than a tonne an acre, and more often as low as half a tonne per acre.
In 1997 the family sat down to discuss the viability of the block, as it was questionable at best. However, the saving grace was simply the pure brilliance of the fruit. It was, and is, always the standout Cabernet block on the property. The decision was therefore taken to reward the excellence of the single sites from the 1998 vintage, with a single vineyard release, named the ‘Ashmead’. The concept was, and still is, to take all time and cost pressures out of winemaking. The Ashmead family wanted to show the world that Australia, the Barossa and certainly Elderton, can produce a world renowned and distinguished Cabernet Sauvignon.
|Clone||Unknown, own roots (most likely G9V3)|
|Vine Age||73 years|
|Soil||Deep alluvial silt over red and brown earths and limestone|
|Maturation||18 months in new French oak hogsheads and puncheons|
Full-bodied, rich and opulent...
As much redcurrant as blackcurrant on the nose but then sweet with cassis/Ribena-like flavours through the length of the palate. Smoky/toasty oak is apparent all the way long though as it breathes the fruit pushes through and ultimately wins the day. There’s a resiny character to this wine which some may find distracting. In general though the power of fruit here is pretty impressive, especially once it’s had time to open up properly.
The bouquet is rich and reserved and gently herbal, with earthy and ‘forest floor’ touches. The wine is full-bodied and loaded with flavour, the tannins bold and robust, with a touch of chewiness... it does deliver bang for your bucks.
...a fine, elegant example of Barossa Cabernet. Medium-bodied, it's smooth and streamlined, with a somewhat linear feel and a crisp, gently tannic finish.
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