Ashbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot 2008 – A Franc Return To The Start

While surely a world first here right now, and I”m going to do it, start a wine review with a quote from Winston Churchill.

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

And well I have not written a line of anything in so long it feels like starting new, afresh, vibrant, the red squiggly lines under words are popping up with rather vast and sweeping regularity. I’ve taken down my favorite glass that I use for all of these reviews, un-dusted, de-linted, washed in first hot, then tepid water, finally dried to a loving shine. This combined with a large sense of trepidation, I journey back into peering down into the looking glass. I won’t lie, I’ve been consuming rather than thinking about my adult beverages of late, but it is I feel, never to late to venture back into adult, learned behavior, even after a period of abstinence from it, and without a commitment of continuing on.

Ashbrook Cabernet Merlot
The old label so we can reminess

It is always best to reach into the top draw in times of uncertainty, and as such I managed to scrape up one of the first red wines that I fell in love with. I managed to get Bearded Wine Man (BWM) to source some, the wine first raised suspicion when I, a usually varied, and mixed dozen wine buyer, dipped into the bargain bin and bought all remaining bottles of the 2007 vintage that were in the shop. BWM, by now knowing that I knew my way around, slumped on the counter and asked. ” Did I miss something about this one?” I smiled, slid one of the nine over the counter and left with the other eight bottles. Victorians – bless them, for the most part know their way around  Pinot Noir, but alas can not see the Cabernet forest for the trees in most parts.

Ashbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot 2008

Cabernet Franc, while yes, one of the 5 noble red grapes of Bordeaux, has to feel like the slightly over accomplished daughter that everyone is a bit scared to ask out. She brings a lot to the table, but know-one really understands her, or when looking over at the parents, how she got there in the first place. Giving for the most part in wines, the high note violets, and deep plums, of a level that would make organic chemistry labs be jealous of their clarity, this a strong “value Add” variety. And lets face it, the French don’t leave her to be planted in the hallowed grounds of Bordeaux just because she is making up the numbers. Previous to this vintage release, the wine was labeled “Cabernet Merlot” with “Cab Franc” in brackets below, this with its swarve calligraphy styled label gave a sense of elegance to the overall package befitting to one of the original inhabitants of Margaret River. (FYI Ashbrook marketing, please go back to the old one) But yes, there is more than just Cabernet Franc in the bottle, but I hate to think that it is now an omission from the front because of a lack of wine consumer knowledge, or Dan’s just didn’t like it.

On with the wine then, Ashbrook have for a long time held their vintages back, with the wines leaving when they are ready for the market, not because market was ready for them. This is old, concentrated, Wilyabrup fruit, from a vintage that had it not come behind the 2007, would have had a large song and dance made about it. If you have a decanter around, get it! This is deep fruit winding down Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbed fruits of the forest road, ripe blackberries, raspberries from the Cabernet Sauvignon, punching violets from the Franc, with the regional herbaceous capsicum freshness that sets her apart from eastern cousins. Yes the Merlot if holding the fort down the middle, but that is a sideshow for me on the palate. The lively acidity from the Cabernet, and the palate freshness from this five year old, lingers, and has you wanting for the next sip of her as she evolves in your glass. You can, and I currently am, take the time to get the most out of the nose, the prettiness of aged released Cabernet never gets dull for me, each return to the glass a new experience. With this in mind I’m not going to recommend a food accompliment, as quite frankly, I don’t recommend that you find one.

Be selfish like I have and drink it some yourself, or share with friends, or potential ones, and have them convinced that yours is the company they will wish to frequent.

8.5 / 10 Sipps
$28-35 RRP