92 pts Tim Atkin MW
Salty, complex and nuanced, with grapefruit and lanolin notes and some underlying tannic grip.
89+ pts Wine Advocate Issue #253 Feb 2021
A blend of 49% Sauvignon Blanc, 26% Sémillon and 25% Chardonnay, the 2019 Sandstone begins with classic Sauvignon Blanc notes of citrus, grapefruit and blackcurrant bud before showing wax melon, green apple and Meyer lemon. Medium-bodied, the energetic mouthfeel is food-friendly with bright acidity, hinting at sensations of dusty citrus blossom and ending with a crisp, clean finish that lingers with persistence. Nicely done.
This small production of Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon is the result of many years of research into the best possible expression of the quartzitic sandstone derived soils and our cool, maritime expression. Complexity and character are built through fermentation and ageing in ceramic eggs and amphorae, and carefully blended. The goal is to produce an appellation and soil driven wine with marked classical styling.
Exceptional quality and record low yields characterise 2019. Sauvignon blanc yields were 52% down and Pinotage yields were 65% down. And the Sauvignon blanc ripened a little unevenly and unusually early. The Pinotage was particularly concentrated without being too dense or heavy. The Sauvignon blanc has a beautiful vinosity and saline minerality and true to Ashbourne is not too fruit-driven. Our Semillon performed unusually well with yields up 36%. Once again it shows a tight mineral centre with viscous edges. Overall the vintage was a cooler than 2017 and even 2018, with an average maximum temperature for Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar of 24.5 Centigrade (versus an equivalent long term average for Burgundy of 24.8 Centigrade). Rainfall was lower than average for Spring and during harvest, but occurred in frequent small amounts causing sustained high humidity. Fortunately our organic treatments proved highly effective against the resulting downy and powdery mildew threat. And the day after harvest finished, the serious rains began – some luck at least! We had the highest March rainfall in 21 years. Record low production and some challenges, but the 2019’s have a deep, concentrated, refined beauty.