A Perfect Pinotage
With this Pinotage, we take you on a journey up the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The Ashbourne Pinotage is born from a beautiful property on the eastern border of the Hamilton Russel Vineyards, where it is also available for tasting. Not to confuse the two, as Ashbourne is a standalone brand, it does stem from the same aesthetic aim and classic approach with which Hamilton Russel Pinot Noir is made. After all, Pinotage is a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, and in “taking a bet on clay and a cool climate”, an intriguing world-class Pinotage was born. As expected from this region, the Ashbourne brand delivers on class, and as a small Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc specialist, the name now precedes itself.
Founded in 1996
Ashbourne was founded in 1996 by Anthony Hamilton Russel in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and named after his great, great grandfather Lord Ashbourne who was Lord Chancellor of Ireland in the late 1800’s
Maiden Pinotage Release in 2001
2001 marks the maiden release of this Pinotage, grown on clay-rich, stony soils setting the foundation for an elegant and structured wine.
95 points from Tim Atkin MW (UK)
This wine scored 95 points from Tim Atkin MW (UK) and 91 points from Aleks Zecevic, Wine Spectator (USA).
” An intrepid personality like the Ashbourne Pinotage 2018 can be daunting at first with dense fruit and broad shoulders carved from deft tannin and a bracing backbone of acidity. Keep in mind this wine is young, and all it needs is a worthy flavour partner to open up and let you in. The synergy between the forestry-rich flavour of a fleshy mushroom and a complex Pinotage like Ashbourne will literally be tangible with the first taste.” – Samarie Smith
FIVE TIPS FOR MATCHMAKING MUSHROOMS AND THE ASHBOURNE PINOTAGE
- Apart from sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, a flavour component called umami comes into play, acting as the foil for a wine like Pinotage, boasting Pinot Noir and Cinsaut as its ancestors.
- Mushrooms’ meaty texture serves as a launching pad for the astute tannins of the Ashbourne Pinotage 2018. Its prominence on the palate is elegantly subdued with the silky and chewy texture of portabella and King oyster mushrooms.
- Teaming it up with a well-reduced vegetable jus as another salty-umami pedestal, allows the wine to unleash its fruit. The richness of the sauce will also soften the acidity of this youthful wine.
- Apart from its deep fruited core, this Pinotage also has a savoury gloss that naturally attracts the flavour and textures of aubergine, lentils, shallots, and garlic used in moderation.
- A fresh thyme twig will always elevate the flavour. But as Anthony Hamilton-Russel says himself, pair it with “imaginative cuisine.”
The Ashbourne Pinotage is not your everyday wine, but it will certainly be a showstopper at any dinner or make a profound gift for a particular person.
Opening such a wine for whatever reason you choose, always remember that it celebrates the intention of making something extraordinary out of Pinotage. The time is long gone when Pinotage was ostracised for its clumsy execution or strange aromas. It is part of the South African heritage and should be our calling card on the world stage. For that, we take our hat off to the Ashbourne Pinotage 2018 that precisely encompasses that: an ambassador for exceptional quality.
We thoroughly enjoyed tasting this wine, and if you watch the video, you can almost say we were slightly intimidated. That is because the wine allures with a vibrant perfume of violet and a rich medley of red fruit like mulberry and cherry. A cool flint-and-fennel note adds a herbaceous edge.
Tasting the wine, it is light-footed on entry, displaying that same playful red fruit aromas but adding to its performance is a deeper, dark core of blueberry, blackberry, and plum. What we call minerality, is manifested in a salty olive-brine taste and salted dark chocolate from the judicious use of oak. Wine lovers will be impressed by the delicate definition, making the wine so versatile that the darker fruit becomes a doorway to both more decadent dishes and the astute acidity, making way for a salted, dark chocolate fondant.
Albeit still somewhat astringent on the back palate, the tannins are clearly ripe and silky, almost porcelain-like, confirming its age-worthy quality. The acid and fruit are beautifully balanced, and although a significant proportion of new oak was used, the fruit is profound enough to stand up to that, making oak the supportive role in this act.
Ashbourne Pinotage 2018 is a true expression of terroir and a guaranteed table talker for wine lovers searching for a stellar Pinotage from a cooler wine region like Hemel-en-Aarde.
See it for yourself
Gallery of our experience.
This is where their “obsession with quality” stems from:
All images copyright Samarie Smith and/or the featured estate.
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