Ashbourne new releases 2019

By , 28 August 2019



Leading Hemel-en-Aarde Valley producer Anthony Hamilton Russell speaks of “wines of consequence” (low volume and acclaimed among a small circle of highly-involved wine enthusiasts) and “wines of relevance” (produced in meaningful volumes and with a wide following among trade and consumers).

He is, of course, owner of Hamilton Russell Vineyards, which makes a single white wine, that being Chardonnay and single red, that being Pinot Noir, combined production being some 100 000 bottles depending on vintage, as well as co-owner of Southern Right, with again a single white in the form of Sauvignon Blanc and a single red in the form of Pinotage, combined production 180 000 bottles – and these he sees as wines of relevance, as well he should.

Back to the future.

Then there’s the Ashbourne label were volumes of the top three wines in this range are not nearly as significant, what’s in the bottle more experimental. Tasting notes and ratings for the current releases as follows:

Ashbourne Pinotage Cinsault 2019
Price: R185
W.O. Swartland. A blend of 84% Pinotage from a 1973 certified heritage vineyard and 14% Cinsault. Unwooded, this shows red cherry, cranberry, musk and a little fynbos on the nose. The palate has plenty of juicy fruit, bright acidity and fine tannins. A cheerful, charming wine. Total production: 19 200 bottles.

Editor’s rating: 90/100.

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Ashbourne Sandstone 2019
Price: R185
A blend of 49% Sauvignon Blanc, 26% Semillon and 25% Chardonnay fermented and matured in a combination of amphorae and old oak. Pear, citrus and a subtle herbal note on the nose while the palate is lean and fresh with a saline finish. Carefully crafted, the result is an understated, very well-balanced wine. Total production: 3 612 bottles.

Editor’s rating: 90/100.

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Ashbourne Pinotage 2017
Price: R750
10 months in 400-litre barrels, 40% new before six months in neutral 2000-litre foudre. A complex nose with notes of raspberry, cranberry, wild strawberry and plum plus fynbos, spice and a little earthiness. The palate shows good fruit concentration offset by fresh, almost sour acidity and fine tannins. Although the alcohol is relatively moderate at 13%, this wine is not without depth. Superbly well balanced, this is an elegant and sophisticated rendition of the variety. Total production: 2 484 bottles and 55 magnums.

Editor’s rating: 94/100.

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Find our South African wine ratings database here.


2 comment(s)

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    Mike Ratcliffe | 29 August 2019

    Right on the money Anthony – couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Christian Eedes | 29 August 2019

    From Anthony Hamilton Russell via email:

    “My point about consequence and relevance are heartfelt. But I don’t mean in anyway to denigrate the plethora of new, stunning, individual, tiny production wines being made in South Africa. Our personal wine cellar is full of these wines – whereas a number of years ago, we collected depressingly few South African wines.

    Collectively these wines have transformed the international view of the South African wine industry – with wine-writers in particular and with certain key members of the trade. We have all benefitted from this. But then we keep asking why this hasn’t translated into a more meaningful international market impact – and upward shift in pricing.

    My view is that there is simply not enough of these wines at an individual level to have any real consumer impact – although the collective impact is significant. So I ask as many influential wine people as possible to encourage successful small producers to hunker-down and build the volume of their most sought after wines, rather than fragment their ranges and create something new every-so-often to keep up the interest levels of their narrow audience.”

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