I recall having a chat with Ashton Hills' Stephen George about 18 months ago, who told me he was unsure if the fruit quality from 2008 would justify a reserve level pinot noir release. Taking that into account, he's done a fantastic job with both of his premier pinots from the hot 2008 vintage. The 2008 Estate even won 'Best Pinot Noir' at the 2009 Australian Cool Climate Wine Show.
Even with the season's limitations, Stephen George has managed to craft an Adelaide Hills pinot noir with a right army of aromatic suggestions. It's at once joyously ripened, wild, fragrant, meaty, earthy and herbal, with sweetly fruited notes of darker cherries supported by a gracing of spearmint and a spicy vanilla oak influence that's fractionally restrained by the standards of a young Ashton Estate (no new oak). Its natural pinot noir depth and seduction are attractive high points. The palate is initially supple yet straight forward to commence, evolving with sappy, then dark and meaty flavours that become more herbal and spicy with progression. To finish, there's a wonderfully lithe acid/tannin structure whose subtlety and grace contradicts its hot year, but it could use more dryness, grip and physical coarseness for my tastes.
ü A very tasty, well crafted pinot noir whose physical impression is a touch simple to have been truly great. It's still yards better than what I'd expect from most makers of Adelaide Hills pinot noir though. Drink to 2014.