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The Elderton Ashmead Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Barossa Valley

The Elderton Ashmead land has consistently produced small parcels of excellent quality fruit. These 2 blocks are believed to be housing the oldest plantings anywhere in the world, certainly older than most in the Napa Valley and Bordeaux.

In 1997 the family, we were told, sat down to discuss the viability of these 2 Cabernet block planted in 1944, 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'( a kind of bee as far as we know). 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.

Yields are always naturally low; always less than a tonne an acre, and more often as low as half a tonne per acre. Vine spacing is 1.5 m with row width 3m East to West Row direction points to higher time and cost investments which made better fruit possible; double trellising for more a riper Cabernet Sauvignon; alluvial terra rosa type limestone suggests lots of terroir characters. The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Ashmead is a single vineyard selection aged for 18 months in new French 300-liter barrels (aka hogsheads)-a mix of new French Oak Hogsheads from about 8 different coopers-for even more spectrumed tastes.

According to Parker, it offers up a superb bouquet of pain grille, pencil lead, scorched earth, espresso, spice box, black currant, and blackberry liqueur. Opulent on the palate, it has gobs of succulent black fruit, well-concealed ripe tannins, impeccable balance, and a long finish. Cellar it for 5-7 years and drink it from 2014 to 2028. This year 2015 justified a good glass of Ashmead 2006.

That ‘The Elderton Estate is not unfamiliar with premium Cabernets, having won more than 8 trophies for this varietal including the 1993 Jimmy Watson Trophy’ from the notes of the official website, is indeed an understandment. Wine Advocate 95 cannot do full justice to the beauty of the wine. We thought the best support to this visionary Cabernet is to buy 6 bottles and try them out.

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