Ashton Hills has long been one of the Adelaide Hills' most underrated makers of a handsomely made and fruited, showy chardonnay, so its followers will be saddened to know 2009 marks the wine's second to last release. As sad as it was to hear of Stephen George grafting all his chardonnay over to pinot noir (from a chardonnay lover's perspective), if one guy in the Adelaide Hills did such a thing, you'd want it to be Stephen. And then I drink this...
Well leesy and cheesy yet contained, with scents of green melons, lemon, apples and minerals rising above a savoury background of nutty oak and cinnamon, Ashton Hills' 2009 unleashes a classically proportioned chardonnay fragrance, by combining delicacy with intensity and weaving clean fruit through its human inputs. The palate doesn't disappoint either, smashing a rich array of white stonefruit and citrus flavours with nutty oak undertones throughout the mouth with a wonderfully nervy, racy energy and stunning length. It doesn't stop there though, as it finishes savoury and funky, with lingering notes of cream cheese and a more buttery, popcorn-like impression of oak polished up beautifully by a seamless, lengthening extract of mouth watering acids. It's far from orthodox or formulaic, reflective of the maker himself.
ü+ A totally convincing expression of a superbly manufactured wine. What a shame the second to last release of Ashton Hills Chardonnay is probably the best I've had. If early indications of the vintage are anything to go by, the final wine from 2010 should be a belter. Drink to 2017.