For a number of reasons, Ashton Hills is a winery I hold a serious amount of respect for. One of my favourite little touches is Ashton Hills' informative label texts, which actually change every vintage. The 2009 Estate Pinot Noir reads; 'Overall Pinot quality in 2009 was so good that all 18 of our clones (selections), instead of the usual handful, made the grade for this Estate wine. One third of the grapes were uncrushed, adding to the wine's complexity, structure and interest.'
Distinctly darkly coloured by Ashton Hills standards, the 2009 Estate essentially matches its appearance with a dark fruited, somewhat raisiny and rather ripe fragrance scented with herbs/menthol and suggestions of stewed pinot fruit character. Its aroma lacks lift, perfume and elegance, but perhaps most disappointing for the style, is a hint of alcoholic warmth that pokes through. The palate regains some credibility thanks to the typically silky, supple qualities associated with Ashton Hills pinot noir, as clever winemaking has imparted reasonable balance and a degree of elegance, but the 2009 remains much riper and conversely darker fruited than the label's better wines. A herbal note emerges in its finish, contrasting the riper front palate, but regrettably, there's also a slightly rough-edged feel emanating through some fairly grippy tannins.
X As a pinot noir I'm not totally convinced by this, which is a feeling I don't usually associate with Ashton Hills. Unfortunately, the 2009 Estate is the type of pinot I'd be happy paying $20-$25 for. Drink to 2014.