Monday, August 17, 2009


 - Adelaide Hills, SA
 - $40-$58
 - Screwcap
 - 14.0%alc

Although better known for the long living, full throttled reds he's helped craft at Wendouree, Stephen George is a self confessed pinot tragic. The pinot noir Stephen makes under his own Ashton Hills label is sourced from some of the coolest sites in the Adelaide Hills. More often than not, his Estate and Reserve releases are the best in South Australia.

Blessed with the fragrant qualities typical of Ashton Hills' top wines, the 2007 Estate unloads bright scents of red cherry and strawberry fruits, supported by deeper notes of savoury earth, sweet vanilla oak and stalk, with a gentle suggestion of cinnamon spice. Weight wise, it's rather medium to full by pinot standards, with that pleasing fullness carrying through to both flavour and structural intensity in a balanced fashion. The palate initially reveals more savoury earth, dark plum and sour edged cherry flavours, which give way to a penetrative extract of cedar/vanilla oak, pushing the wine into a genuinely spicy, dry finish framed by prickly pinot tannins and sharp acidity. It's extremely good, but just lacks the authoritative elegance and exceptional length required for a higher score.

üUnsurprisingly, this is right at the top end of South Australian pinot noir. The 2007 Estate is as good as any of Ashton Hills' recent releases, but a bit more intense and complex, and certainly in need of further cellaring. After careful cellaring, this should be as good as any of Stephen's Estate wines. Drink to 2015.
94 points


  1. Hi chris jc here again. Being a vic expat Im a bit more used to yarra pinot. Could you reccomend me some other local pinots other than Ashton Hills?


  2. It's a bit of a thin field to be honest jc. Outside of the Adelaide Hills there isn't a hell of a lot on offer, but Brian Croser's new Tappanappa label could prove me wrong!

    I like Tim Knappstein's Riposte The Sabre 2007 as SA's best value pinot at present. Barratt's Reserve is usually pretty good but if it's a more simple, easy drinking experience you're after than his Bonython generally does fine (as does Ashton Hill's Piccadilly Valley).Henschke's Giles and Grosset's pinot can deliver well on occassions but they're both around the $50 mark. Shaw and Smith make a pretty good pinot for around $35 but it's cellar door only (only opens weekends). I do hope they make that and their riesling more readily available soon.

    I do hope I've been of help.

    Cheers for dropping a line.

    Chris P