Ashbourne White 2012

No stranger to the wine world, Anthony Hamilton Russell of Hamilton Russell Vineyards, has produced fine Burgundy style wines from his Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes grown on his property in the Hemel en Aarde Valley outside Hermanus since 1981.

Countless awards honour each vintage of these outstanding two wines and recently, the H-R Chardonnay 2011 received the highest score in a line up of 168 Chardonnay’s tasted by Classic Wine magazine’s judging panel (Classic Wine Oct/Nov 2012 edition).

However, never content to rest on his laurels, Anthony has created two other successful ventures, Southern Right and Ashbourne. Named after the type of whale found off Hermanus, Southern Right has been producing a respectable Sauvignon Blanc and Pinotage since 1995. On the other hand, Ashbourne is an 113ha property on the eastern boundary of Hamilton-Russell Vineyards and has been producing wine since their first bottling in 2001. Ashbourne wines are named after Anthony’s great, great grandfather Lord Ashbourne who was Lord Chancellor of Ireland in the late 1800s.

For several years two premium wines have and will still continue to be made: a white from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, called Sandstone and a red aptly called Ashbourne.

To give more visibility to the brand an exciting new white blend made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay was launched this week. The wine has an intriguing label which reminds me of the famous 4711 Eu de Cologne bottle!

Designed by Kate Lewin, the Ashbourne label has a strong “Belle Époque” influence evoking family ownership and the flora and fauna of the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde Valley where the wine is made. The “Belle Époque” was a highly social time of optimism, enjoyment and the pursuit of beauty almost to the point of abandon and of course fine wine was very much a part of this time.

Kate and her team had a good feel for design from this era, and so they studied labels and images from the period. The Belle Époque had its signature colours, which they incorporated with a twist – they had to have an inspiration from the surroundings in the Hemel-en-Aarde area.

Psycodelic design on new Ashbourne label

The blue-green came from the faded inside wall paint of an old abandoned farm cottage in the valley. The more faded pink came from the inside and outside of a certain type of mussel shell found on the sandy beaches of Walker Bay (the Atlantic Ocean Bay which cools and moderates the vineyards), while the orange came from the small, rare Arum Lily frog found on the property.

Anthony regards family ownership and hands-on involvement highly and this was expressed on the label by incorporating aspects of the crests and the family mottos in Latin of Lord Ashbourne’s family, the Hamilton-Russell family and the Nel family (Anthony’s wife’s family). The pelican, goat, small six-point star and cockle shells all derive from the various family crests.

The first release of this wine is from the 2012 vintage and is made up of 80 percent Sauvignon Blanc with the rest from unwooded Chardonnay. It has a welcome low alcohol content of 13 percent making it acceptable for the summer days ahead.

Aromas of lemon and lime awake the senses and on the palate you will be rewarded with a fresh, somewhat crisp citrus flavour mellowed by the fruit weight of the Chardonnay.

Expect to pay: R73.50

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