Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Well, here we are TWO YEARS into this blog. If you're one of the many who have talked to me in person, you'll know that I generally flavour that "two years" with a few expletives thrown in to liven up the phrase. When I started this little baby in April 2009, I never foresaw just how much work it was actually going to be. More than a few folks have said, "Well, just stop." As tempting as that might be, the whole escapade is as much a labour of love as it is a task - and I certainly can't deny that I'm learning one helluva lot.

So, rather than bemoan the thought that I've still got another 1200+ bottles to go on this little Odyssey, I figured Boo and I should celebrate the start of Year 3 with one of those bottles you tend keep around for a special occasion. After all today is pretty extraordinary after all.

763. 2001 Elderton - Ashmead Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Barossa Valley - Australia)

Elderton has a pretty good presence in the Vancouver market. With a couple listings in the provincial liquor stores, I'd kind of assumed that it was a large player in the Aussie wine scene. I was surprised to find out that they have an annual production of only 32,000 cases. That puts it on par with a number of BC's better known wineries - and I wouldn't categorize BC wineries as being large producers.

I suppose I shouldn't be all that surprised. Elderton is a family-owned and run winery and was only established in 1982. Despite the seemingly recent pedigree, the Ashmead family bought the Barossa Valley Elderton vineyards that feature vines that were planted as early as 1894. Indeed, the winery has risen to prominence quickly. It's pulled in some major awards - both at home in Oz and abroad.

Those 100+ year old vines are all Shiraz; however, the vines that produce the fruit for this Cab are pretty well established, themselves, at 65 years. With that age of vine, there's a limit on just how much fruit you can grow. These old Cab vines produce about one ton per acre and most winemakers will proudly tell you that they're using the very best of grapes when they're cropped at two tons an acre.

The Elderton website tells a story of how these special vines were almost destroyed in 1997 so that they make way for higher yielding vines. The fruit from this solitary block was being blended with grapes from other parts of this and other estate vineyards and used for the winery's premium Estate label, but at under $30 a bottle, it just didn't make economic sense for the winery. Luckily for us, before they'd started ripping the vines out, they decided to release a limited volume, single vineyard wine using the family name, more in line with their iconic Command Shiraz.

With only 700 cases having been made of this fourth vintage, this is a wine that hit all the right notes - if you like your Cabs big and ripe. Definitely New World on the palate, I didn't find that much of the mint-y or eucalyptus notes that are often prominent on Barossa Cabs, but the balance and length made for a delicious treat.

Too bad we don't get to drink like this every night. I may need to drag this Odyssey out longer than necessary so that we can come up with a few more anniversaries and special occasions.

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