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Elderton Golden Semillon (375ML half-bottle) 2003
After time spent working in Saudi Arabia, Neil and Lorraine Ashmead, moved to the Barossa in 1979, after Lorraine’s father identified a beautiful home with potential. The Ashmeads believed this would be a great place to raise their family. The homestead, in the heart of the township of Nuriootpa, was surrounded by extremely old Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines. At a time where demand for Australian table wine was negligible, the vineyard had become derelict. After years of no interest, the real estate agent eventually offered the Ashmeads the 72 acre vineyard as a bonus, as part of the sale of the homestead. Three years later, after restoring the vineyard, Elderton Wines was born.
The second generation, Cameron and Allister, took the reins of the business in 2003 and today work together to run Elderton Wines, with Lorraine still involved through her role on the Board. Cameron and Allister believe very strongly in continuing the traditions that began a generation earlier, on the Nuriootpa vineyard. Wanting to take the family company to the next level, they together devised a plan to buy great vineyards in other significant sub appellations of the Barossa. Through using sustainable practices, the hope is that the next generation of the Ashmead family have a lot to work with when they are at the helm.
Historically and presently the most important wine-producing region of Australia, the Barossa Valley is set in South Australia, where more than half of the country’s wine is made. Because the climate is very hot and dry, vineyard managers must be careful so that grapes do not become overripe.
The intense heat is ideal for plush, bold reds, particularly Rhône blends featuring Shiraz, Grenache, and Mataro (Mourvèdre). White grapes can produce crisp, fresh wines from Riesling, Chardonnay, and Semillon if they are planted at higher altitudes.
Most of Australia’s largest wine producers are based here and Shiraz plantings date back as far as 1860. Many of them are dry farmed and bush trained, still offering less than one ton per acre of inky, purple juice.
An unassuming but noble variety capable of wines with considerable structure, depth and length, Sémillon is an uncompromising white variety with the power to create wines that improve for several decades. It is the perfect partner to the aromatic and vivid Sauvignon Blanc; the two are most commonly found blended in their home region of Bordeaux. Sémillon especially shines in Sauternes, one of the world’s greatest sweet wines, with highly concentrated flavors of honey and dried apricots. While Sémillon is not the most fashionable grape in the rest of the wine world, it enjoys great success in Australia's Hunter Valley, where it can produce elegant, complex dry wines with aging potential.
In the Glass
Sémillon is most notable for its smooth texture and significant palate weight. In youthful dry wines, it expresses subtle aromas of lemon, green apple, pear and stone fruit. Aged or sweet Sémillon wines show more complex characters of lanolin, beeswax, honeysuckle, ginger, saffron, vanilla or toast.
Thanks to its moderate acidity, this fairly full-bodied wine can stand up to pretty boldly flavored food. Think lightly spiced Asian or Indian white meat or fish dishes, or anything with cinnamon, clove, or star anise. It’s also great with autumnal vegetables like kabocha squash, yam or potato. Botrytised Sémillon, as in Sauternes, is a perfectly decadent pairing with foie gras.
Sémillon was once the most common variety in South Africa—so common, in fact, that in 1822, when 93% of the country’s vineyard area was planted with it, it was simply referred to as Wyndruif, or “wine grape.”