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Tasting Reviews




Sons of Eden Strike in New Zealand


12-Jun-2018
‘Sons of Eden’ is the Barossa wine venture of winemaker Corey Ryan and viticulturist Simon Cowham, who learnt their trade in the wineries of the Barossa and Eden Valleys near Adelaide in South Australia, hence the name ‘Sons of Eden’. The Sons of Eden project began with a tiny production of less than 25 tonnes of processed fruit in 2000, when Corey and Simon put their complementary skills and knowledge together. The brand has now grown to a production of around 10,000 cases of wine, made from fruit half of it estate-owned or leased, and the other half from contract growers. The wines are made at their winery at Light Pass, built in 2002, organically growing as time has gone on. Simon’s role is to strive for fruit that will be made into wine that shows site typicity. Low yields are crucial for this. The fruit comes from sustainable vineyards, with some managed organically, one managed biodynamically, though none certified. The wines to date have received stupendous critical acclaim from the critics, a testament to the fact that these two winegrowers are fully intimate their trade.

Corey Ryan is well-known in New Zealand, coming from Henschke at the end of 2002 to work alongside Alastair Maling MW as chief winemaker in Auckland for Villa Maria Estates. There he made a very good name for himself and Villa Maria. Corey left Villa Maria at the end of 2008 to build the Sons of Eden project. On the way, he became the chief winemaker at McWilliams followed by a stint at Dorrien Estate in the same role. In 2016, Corey felt he and Simon had built up Sons of Eden to a sustainable level, though both Corey and Simon operate their own consultancy businesses to supplement the income and see the wider world.

At present, Sons of Eden exports to 10 countries, though there is little opportunity to increase production much, due to the availability of suitable vineyards. The wines are presented in three distinct tiers, firstly the ‘Tribute’ wines, showcasing Barossa styles and paying tribute to the pioneers behind them. The ‘Mystical’ wines are top examples of single varietals made to the highest world standards. The top wines are the ‘Single Vineyard’ wines made from amazing parcels of fruit when the season permits. www.sonsofeden.com The wines are imported and distributed in New Zealand by RM Wine Partners. www.rmwp.co.nz

Corey Ryan - a Son of Eden

Corey Ryan in New Zealand
Sons of Eden winemaker Corey Ryan was in New Zealand on a promotional trip. It was a pleasure to catch up with him again, as the last time we were in the same company was sharing Champagne one evening during the proceedings of a Royal Easter Show judging in Auckland. Cory had already announced his resignation, and I remember discussing the Sons of Eden venture. Here are the wines that he brought to show me.

The Tribute Wines
Sons of Eden ‘Marschall’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2017
Dark, deep, impenetrable black-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly presented with very refined and elegant aromas of ripe blackberry fruit along with sweet black pepper and a hint of eucalyptus, and gentle notes of plums, liquorice and spices. The aromatics are harmoniously interwoven. Full-bodied, the palate has a deep and intense heart with a taut core, showing softly sweet flavours of blackberry fruit with black pepper and subtle notes of plums and herbs. The palate is elegantly proportioned with plenty of fine-grained tannin extraction underlining the flavours. This has good linearity and drive, carrying to an elegant, softly rich finish. This is an elegantly proportioned and refined, but rich Shiraz with blackberry fruit, black pepper and plums with fine tannin extract and linearity. A tribute to Barossa Valley vigneron David Marschall with vineyards in Tanunda and Ebenezer. Shiraz fruit from Tanunda, Ebenezer, Seppeltsfiels and Light Pass, vines 12-60 y.o., fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine on skins 15-26 days and matured 15 months in new and seasoned oak hogsheads. 3,000 dozen made. 18.0/20 Jun 2018 RRP $34.99

Sons of Eden ‘Kennedy’ Barossa Valley Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre 2016
Very dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter edged. The nose is full and voluminous aromas of sweetly ripe blackberries and dark raspberries along with black plums and liquorice, unveiling a little eucalyptus. The aromatics are soft, ethereal are seamlessly integrated. Full-bodied, the palate is soft and broad, and full with rich, mouthfilling flavours of sweetly ripe blackberries and dark raspberries with black plum notes, unfolding some eucalypt and liquorice. The fruit has great breadth and is supported by accessible, up-front, fine-grained tannin extraction, and the palate has some underlying alcoholic drive. The wine carries smoothly to a full, even accessible finish. This is a rich and harmonious, softly broad and mouthfilling GSM with sweetly ripe blackberry and dark raspberry fruit with plums and a little eucalypt of a full and accessible palate. Match with barbecued and roasted red meat dishes over the next 5-6+ year. A tribute to Leo ‘Joe’ Kennedy who planted the 50+ y.o. Light Pass Grenache for this wine. A blend of 52% Grenache, 32% Shiraz and 16% Mourvedre from Light Pass, Rowland Flat, Nuriootpa, Seppeltsfield, Gomersel and Moppa, vines 20-100+ y.o. vines, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine matured 16 months in seasoned hogsheads and puncheons. 2,700 dozen made. 18.5/20 Jun 2018 RRP $34.99

Sons of Eden ‘Pumpa’ Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2015
Full, deep, black-red colour, a little lighter on the rim, with slight garnet hues. This has a very rich and well-proportioned nose with a rounded and deeply packed heart of ripe blackcurrant and black-berried fruit along with nuances of black pepper and spice, soft hints of eucalypt, unfolding dark herbs and a little mint. The aromatics show very good intensity. Full-bodied, the palate has rich, deep and plush fruit flavours of ripe blackberries and blackcurrants with some boysenberry notes, along with a little black pepper and spices. This has a good, deep rounded heart that unfolds notes of herbs, mint, and a little cassis. The wine is rich and deep with very fine-grained tannin extraction and integrated acidity, and the wine carries to a long and sustained finish of herbs and eucalyptus. This is a rich, round and luscious Cabernet/Shiraz with ripe blackcurrant, blackberry and black pepper, with notes of herbs, mint and cassis. Match with herb-marinated roasted lanb and beef dishes over the next 6-8 years. A tribute to Len Pumpa, an Eden Valley pioneering vigneron. A blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Shiraz and 1% Tempranillo, from the Central Eden Valley, Moculta and Light Pass, vines 15-50+ y.o., fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine on skins 15 days and aged 15 months in new and seasoned oak hogsheads. 444 dozen made. 18.0+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $34.99


The Mystical Wines
Sons of Eden ‘Freya’ Eden Valley Riesling 2017
Brilliant, lemon-hued straw-yellow colour, pale on the rim. The nose is softly presented with very good depth and concentration of lime and lemon fruit with exotic yellow florals, subtle notes of honeysuckle and suggestions of toast and minerals. The aromatics show very good depth and density with softness. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has elegant, but blossoming fruit flavours of limes and lemons, along with lifted notes of exotic florals and honeysuckle. The fruit forms a soft, rounded core and is balanced by gently refreshing acidity. A little phenolic texture emerges and carries the wine to a very long finish. This is a beautifully soft and finely presented dry Riesling with rounded and concentrated flavours of citrus fruits, exotic florals and honeysuckle on a smooth palate. Serve as an aperitif and with Asian fare over the next 4+ years. Named after the goddess Freya from where Riesling originated. Fruit from the Craneford and High Eden regions, vines 19-43 y.o., hand-picked and WBP, and cool-fermented to 12.5% alc. and 2.1 g/L RS, TA 6.8 g/L and pH 2.98, the wine aged 3 months on lees. 1,500 dozen made. 18.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $34.99

Sons of Eden ‘Selene’ Barossa Valley Tempranillo 2014
Dark, deep, near impenetrable black-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is full, blossoming with an aromatic array of ripe dark-red and black berried fruits along with notes of pepper and spices, along with floral elements, revealing a little oak cedar and hints of eucalyptus. The aromatics feature wonderfully. Full-bodied, the palate is rich and powerful with sweetly ripe fruit flavours of dark-red and black berried fruits along with pepper and spices, with lifted florals. The flavours blossom and fill the palate, and are supported by grainy tannin extraction and grip. The fruit has plenty of power and underlying drive, and the wine carries to a full, accessible, sweet-fruited finish. This is a rich and powerful Tempranillo with blossoming flavours of dark-red and black fruits with pepper, spices and florals on a mouthfilling palate showing good accessibility. Match with Middle Eastern fare over the next 7-9+ years. Named after the Greek goddess of the moon. 100% Tempranillo from Light Pass, vines planted 1999, hand-picked, destemmed and fermeted to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 30 months in 300 L oak casks. 280 dozen made. 18.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $54.99

Sons of Eden ‘Zephyrus’ Barossa Shiraz 2016
Full, deep, near saturated black-red colour with a little purple on the rim. The nose is tightly bound and concentrated, a little unyielding initially, unveiling ripe blackberry fruit with hints of boysenberries, black plums Asian spices, and nuances of minerals and tar. The aromatics are rich, but restrained at present. Full-bodied, the palate is tight and well-bound with a richly sweet and deeply intense core of ripe blackberry fruit with notes of boysenberries entwined with Asian spices, hints of tar and minerals. The palate grows in richness, sweetness and lusciousness, and the fruit is supported finely balanced, fine-grained powdery tannin extraction. The palate is underlined by stylish power and drive, and carries to a long, black-berried finish. This is a very deep and concentrated, very fine-structured ripe Shiraz with stylishly restrained flavours of blackberries, boysenberries, spices and minerals. Serve with game meat dishes over the next 8-10+ years. Named after the Greek god of the west wind. A blend of 19 parcels, 52% Barossa Valley and 48% Eden Valley, vines 20-60+ y.o., fermented with a portion of whole clusters, the wine spending 20-25 days on skins and aged 15 months in 35% new French oak hogsheads. 1,500 dozen made. 19.0-/20 Jun 2018 RRP $54.99

Sons of Eden ‘Eurus’ Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour with youthful purple hues on the edge. The nose is full and packed with deep and densely concentrated aromas of ripe blackberry fruit along with suggestions of boysenberries and black plums, but with absolutely no sign of over-ripeness. Layers of cedary oak, liquorice, spice and hints of dark raspberries add detail and interest. Full-bodied, the palate has immensely sweet, rich and lusciously succulent flavours of ripe blackberry fruit along with black plums and suggestions of boysenberries, unfolding a little cedar and liquorice. The fruit richness fills the palate and is supported by considerable, powdery, fine-grained tannins with integrated acidity. A little alcoholic power underlines the fruit and the wine carries to a long, ripe, black-fruited finish. This is a remarkably ripe Cabernet Sauvignon with impressively rich and succulent blackberry fruit with boysenberries and cedar on a very fine-structured palate with great presence. There is no currant, cassis or eucalypt expression at all. Match with roasted lamb and beef dishes over the next 10-15 years. Named after the Greek god of the east wind. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from a single vineyard in the central Eden Valley, vines 25 y.o., the fruit hand-picked, destemmed, indigenous yeast fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 20 months in new and season French oak hogsheads. 170 dozen made. 19.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP$89.99

Sons of Eden ‘Romulus’ Barossa Valley Old Vine Shiraz 2015
Very dark, black-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim with slight purple hues, very youthful in appearance. The nose is full and well-concentrated with deeply packed, but stylishly expressed aromas of ripe black-berried fruits intermixed with black minerals, a hint of tar, unfolding notes of spices and black florals with black pepper nuances. This has great density allied to finesse and style. Full-bodied, the palate has great richness, density and power of ripe blackberry fruit with notes of tar and minerals, a little game, with black pepper and Asian spices. The fruit is sweet, succulent and mouthfilling, and supported by considerable fine-grained, flowery tannin extraction and structure. The palate has great presence, depth and weight, and is essentially quite complete. The flavours carry with great drive to a long, rich, solid finish. This is a very ripe, fulsome, ripe Shiraz with deeply concentrated flavours of blackberries, minerals and tar, with game and spice detail on a powerfully constructed, but fine-grained palate. Match with casseroles and roasted game meat dishes over the next 10-15+ years. Named after the stronger more powerful of the twins that founded Rome. 100% Shiraz fruit from Ebenezer, Moppa and Menglers Hill, vines 60+ to 80+ y.o., hand-picked and destemmed, and fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 20 months in new and seasoned French oak hogsheads. 700 dozen made. 19.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $89.99

Sons of Eden ‘Remus’ Eden Valley Old Vine Shiraz 2015
Full, even, dark ruby-red colour with black hues, a little lighter on the rim, with slight purple tints. The nose is very elegant and refined, with penetrating aromas of fragrant blackberry fruit along with very fine violet and black florals, black pepper, lifted spices and subtle notes of eucalyptus. This has elegance, intensity and finesse. Full bodied, the palate is very fine and firmly concentrated with a very deeply packed heart of ripe blackberry fruit with notes of violet florals, spices, pepper, liquorice and eucalyptus, revealing camphor and cedary oak detail. The fruit and the structure are seamlessly interwoven, and very fine-grained, powdery tannin and rich flavours fill the palate. The palate core is rich and refined, and the wine carries with great linearity and finesse to a long and sustained, concentrated finish. This is a beautifully refined Shiraz with great extraction, fruit richness and intensity, interwoven to fill the palate leading to a very long finish. Match with spiced lamb and Middle Eastern fare over the next 10-15 years. Named after the more refined, focussed and elegant of the twins that founded Rome. 100% Shiraz fruit from Moculta, Keyneton and Central Eden Valley, vines 50+ y.o., fermented with some whole clusters to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 22 months in 55% new French oak hogsheads. 800 dozen made. 19.5/20 Jun 2018 RRP $89.99


The Single Vineyard Wine
Sons of Eden ‘Cirrus’ ‘Single Vineyard’ High Eden Valley Riesling 2017
Brilliant light straw-yellow colour with slight green hues. The nose is intensely concentrated with very deep and penetrating, well-packed aromas of minerals underlined by subtle notes of lime and lemonade fruit and wet-stone complexity, nuances of honeysuckle and exotic floral elements unfolding from the core. This has an amazing array of mineral elements on the nose. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is powerfully presented with intensely deep and penetrating flavours of citrus fruit entwined with exotic florals and an array of minerals. A little tropical fruit adds to the richness. The palate possesses impressive presence, with sweetness and luscious, but the wine is bone dry. This is vibrant with zesty acidity and the wine flows along a fine-textured phenolic line leading to a very long and sustained finish. This is a statement dry Riesling with impressive intensity and depth of citrus fruit, exotic florals and an array of minerals in a vibrant palate with very fine textures. Serve as an aperitif over the next 5+ years. Named after the Cirrus clouds over the High Eden. Hand-picked fruit from The Petney Family Boehm Springs Vineyard, vines 18 y.o., WBP and cool-fermented to 12.0% alc. and <1.0 g/L RS, TA 7.1 g/L and pH 2.98, the wine aged 4 months on lees. 2,000 bottles made. 20.0/20 Jun 2018 RRP $59.99
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