Elderton Golden Semillon (375ML half-bottle) 2015
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 the 1850s or before. Many of them are dry-farmed and bush-trained, still offering less than one ton per acre of inky, intense, purple juice.
Apart from the classics, we find many regional gems of different styles.
Late harvest wines are probably the easiest to understand. Grapes are picked so late that the sugars build up and residual sugar remains after the fermentation process. Ice wine, a style founded in Germany and there referred to as eiswein, is an extreme late harvest wine, produced from grapes frozen on the vine, and pressed while still frozen, resulting in a higher concentration of sugar. It is becoming a specialty of Canada as well, where it takes on the English name of ice wine.
Vin Santo, literally “holy wine,” is a Tuscan sweet wine made from drying the local white grapes Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia in the winery and not pressing until somewhere between November and March.