Ashbourne is the site near Hermanus where Anthony Hamilton Russell is attempting to re-imagine what Pinotage might be. One way or another, I’ve had the opportunity to give the maiden 2001 vintage plenty of scrutiny since its release in 2004 and though I respect Hamilton Russell’s agenda of trying to distance himself from Pinotage as predominantly fruit-driven, I’ve always found it particularly rustic and earthy. In a word, weird.
The 2004 was the next vintage after the 2001 and I have to confess I haven’t come across it much but bottle at the weekend proved enthralling. Red fruit, spice and just a hint of meatiness on the nose. The palate showed great fruit delineation, fresh acidity and fine, grippy tannins. Medium bodied and perfectly balanced, there was a sense it was provide good drinking for at least another five years, if not 10. It had the finesse of Pinot Noir and the intensity of Shiraz and it was one of those wines which stopped those around the dinner table in mid-conversation. Score: 18/20.