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Ashbourne Pinotage 2017

Tasting Notes

From the maiden release in 2001, this benchmark wine has redefined South Africa’s own red grape variety, Pinotage, with its classic, refined styling and unique complex character. This is a wine unlike anything else, intense, rich and savoury with a beautiful underlying minerality.

2017 was back to our usual timing after a particularly early 2015 and 2016. As for 2015 and 2016 however, the duration of harvest was short, with all grapes coming in prior to the end of February – having begun the harvest in the first week of February. Based on average maximum temperatures for the crucial months of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, 2017 was a warm harvest – 0.53 centigrade above our long-term average of 25 centigrade. December was warmer, January cooler and February warmer than average. Rainfall for these crucial months was only 10mm below our long-term average, so conditions could not be described a particularly dry. The rain which fell was in more regular very small amounts however, raising humidity and creating botrytis pressure. Our organic use of “good” Trichoderma funguses to attack botrytis was fortunately highly effective and we experienced no detrimental effect on what turned out to be exceptional grape quality. Altogether 2017 was an excellent vintage for us, with pure, fine, particularly classic, elegant wines with marked minerality.

Scores & Reviews

94 pts Andrew Howard MW, Decanter – “A very refined and elegant Pinotage. Carbonic maceration was used on a small part of the crop and the juice retained to blend in post-fermentation, adding extra fresh fruit character. A fresher style than the weighty 2016, this was matured in 400-litre barrels for nine months before spending more time in specially commissioned, neutral, Francois Frère foudres. One of the Cape’s finest Pinotages, showing how good this grape can be in the right hands. Only 225 cases made”

94 pts – Top 25 Wines of 2019, Christian Eedes – “A list of top SA wines would be a sad affair were it to exclude Pinotage but the category seems to have stagnated somewhat in stylistic terms, the best examples tending to be very forceful. This elegant and sophisticated example as conceived by proprietor Anthony Hamilton Russell and winemaker Emul Ross suggests that there may be other ways to tackle the variety.”

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