Eden Road Wines is toasting its selection in the James Halliday Top 100 wines for 2021, with its 2019 Syrah the only Canberra region vintage to make the prestigious list.
“Medium-bodied but intense and perfectly balanced, the finish and aftertaste as fresh as a daisy,” reads the listing, which gives the wine a score of 97 out of 100.
It adds to the trophies the 2019 Syrah has collected and entrenches the region’s reputation for outstanding cool climate wines, especially syrah, also known as shiraz.
Eden Road winemaker and manager Celine Rousseau is proud to see her syrah mixing it with the likes of the Hunter Valley shiraz and flying the flag for the region.
She knew immediately that this wine would stand out, forged in the furnace of that drought year.
Grown on Eden Road’s block at Murrumbateman, the vines could only be irrigated at veraison or grape-ripening stage after the dam ran dry.
“I knew from day one when the grapes were going through veraison it would be a fairly concentrated syrah because the size of the berries didn’t increase that much,” Celine said.
It’s a fuller-bodied, juicier syrah than previous years but still has the spicy fruit characters that indicate it’s from a cool climate region.
Celine said it was matured in French oak, but only 10 per cent new, for 16 months.
“It needs plenty of structure and complexity to stay in oak for that long,” she said.
It’s a great food wine that can be drunk now or cellared for 10 years, with spicy, peppery notes, blackberry and dark cherry.
Celine said it went well with roast lamb or gamey meat such as venison, as well as chocolate.
Born in Paris and trained in Bordeaux, Celine honed her skills in Chateaux in Bordeaux, Champagne and Languedoc in France, as well as top Western Australian wineries, but has been in the Canberra region for the past 20 years.
She joined Eden Road in 2018 from the NSW Hilltops region winery Chalkers Crossing, where she was founding winemaker and manager since 1999.
Since then, Eden Road has achieved organic certification and Celine has refocused the winery on the region’s iconic varieties – syrah/shiraz and riesling.
The vineyard has been handled organically for the past two, but the first organic wines were made this year.
“It’s a good way to look after the land,” Celine said.
She can only use winemaking products that are organically certified and yeasts have to be free of genetically modified organisms.
The Murrumbateman vines were planted in 1994 and are now very well balanced and self-regulating, even in wet years.
Celine said the climate was warming and growers were adjusting by planting other varieties such as tempranillo and sangiovese.
“People are experimenting, but the icons are riesling and syrah, and will stay like that for quite a while yet,” she said.