Elderton Comes to Canberra

by The Vinsiders


Elderton is an iconic winery from the Barossa. It has been owned by the Ashmead Family since 1979, with the first Elderton wines produced in 1982. The original grapevines were planted in 1894 (yep, that’s right).

The aim of the Ashmeads is to “produce world class wines from entrenched varieties, grown in the Barossa from our own vineyard holdings”, to “celebrate the individual terroirs of each of our sites and … to produce wines that show true regional history and character, varietal definition and a healthy slice of our own personalities”.

There are critics of Elderton who say that their style of their reds represent an overripe, over-oaked, over-alcoholic style from yesteryear, that doesn’t age well and is no longer desirable. Bollocks, we say. We have had many mature Command Shiraz that are pictures of beauty, intensity and complexity and have been nothing but a delight to drink. The 2009 Elderton Command Shiraz is a essay in achieving fruit intensity without palate heaviness.

In 2010, it added a new 60 acre vineyard located in Greenock, Barossa Valley, which includes vines plantings from 1915. The first releases are from what is proving to be a stunning 2012 Barossa vintage.


A few weeks ago, Cameron Ashmead from Elderton hosted a dinner at The Chairman and Yip in Canberra to share Elderton’s wines. We’d like to compliment Cameron and Elderton on a few fronts:

  1. For actually visiting Canberra – most wineries skip our city for the larger and perhaps more affluent customers of Sydney and Melbourne;
  2. For opening up the dinner to its customers – many wineries seem to forget that it’s the customers that purchase their wine, not the marketing or retail reps;
  3. For pricing the dinner affordably – we love wine dinners but their often extravagant cost is a barrier to many;
  4. For their generosity with the wine on the night. A wide range of wines were provided, including Command Shiraz, and in liberal quantities; and
  5. Finally, for Cameron for being a great and entertaining host, explaining the wines to us, but not speaking for too long (once some winemakers start, it seems an eternity before they stop!).


2010 Elderton Shiraz ($26)
This was certainly the lesser of the Elderton reds, but only marginally so and the price/quality ratio cannot be ignored. Blackberry, plums, liquorice, chocolate and spice. A wine that many would enjoy. 89 points.

2009 Elderton Command Shiraz ($95)
Here, a hot, drought-affected year has delivered a surprisingly balanced wine with silky tannins, medium to full-bodied fruit, and a wonderful, gentle complexity. From vines planted in 1894.

Blackberry, blueberries, plums, chocolate, spices (cinnamon in particular), toast and mocha/caramel oak. Decadent, but not overly so. Needs a few years to settle and all come together. 94 points.

2012 Elderton Greenock One Shiraz ($26)
From vines twenty to thirty five years old. This wine sits really nicely between the quality of the Estate and the Command Shiraz. Blackberry, dark plum, chocolate, spice and mocha oak. Not overly complex but very approachable and very tasty. 92 points.

2012 Elderton Western Ridge Grenache Carignan (Grenache (92%) Carignan (8%) ($45)
The Carignan is from vines over 100 years old. Sweet red fruits – raspberry and red cherry – with some spice, earth and a hint of game underneath. Only medium bodied but with good length. An entirely enjoyable and slightly different wine. 92 points (but could go 93, we enjoyed it so much).


Full story and tasting notes at www.vinsiders.net