Like many wine brands, Sons of Eden began as a labour of love.

BL – Winemakers, Corey Ryan. Barossa Valley, South Australia
Photo: John Krüger

Two friends pooled their resources, worked after hours, kept up their day jobs and before you could say Barossa Valley Shiraz, one of them had quit their career in wine management and plunged into the deep end of the wine tank. That was Corey Ryan at the end of 2016.

This week he was in Wellington as part of a whirlwind tour to show New Zealanders the wines he makes with his mate Simon Cowham, a viticulturist. Both are progeny of families from Eden Valley, hence the name, says Ryan, when talking about how their pipe dream has become a business reality.

Sons of Eden winemaker Corey Ryan (centre) tasting in Wellington with Matt King, store manager, and Dan Dew, both of Regional Wines & Spirits.

The focus

“We aim to make wines from grapes the Barossa does well, namely Riesling and Shiraz, a little Grenache and the odd Cabernet every now and then. We’re trying to let the vineyard express its fruit flavours, so we’re going for minimal intervention and really hands off winemaking.”

The wines 

A wine friend told me I had to hunt down these wines. Luckily, I didn’t need to because they came to me and I can now see why he suggested searching for them – here are my top picks.

17.5/20

2017 Sons of Eden Freya Eden Valley Riesling $34.99

Freya is the German goddess of war so it’s an apt name for a dry Riesling like this one, which is made with everyday drinking in mind, hence it’s approachable soft thanks to the use of grapes grown on two slightly warmer vineyards, which tones down the naturally high acidity of Riesling. It’s bone dry with less than 1 gram per litre of residual sugar from the grapes adding fruity appeal but no sweetness. 

 

19/20

2017 Sons of Eden Cirrus High Eden Valley Single Vineyard Riesling $59.99

Talk about a massive next level wine. This gorgeous concentrated lime zesty, bone dry, super fresh Riesling is aged for 12 months in bottle before being available for sale; this gives the acidity a chance to  soften a little; it’s naturally high and even more so since this wine is made from High Eden, which is Australia’s only official wine sub-region and refers to all parts of Eden Valley where vines grow over 450 metres.

This is the second vintage of this wine and it will be available for sale on 1 August this year.

 

17.5/20

2016 Sons of Eden GSM Kennedy Barossa Valley $34.99

Old vineyard Mourvedre is as rare as hen’s teeth in the Barossa Valley right now so it’s no surprise that the M component is relatively low in this wine, which is made from 48% Grenache, 35% Shiraz and 15% Mourvedre but less is more when it comes to Mourvedre, says winemaker Corey Ryan, who looks to Shiraz for acidity to keep this wine fresh and long on its complex finish – think dark cocoa, earthy flavours. Tasty.

 

19/20

2016 Sons of Eden Zephyrus Shiraz $54.99

Wow. It’s not a technical wine word or anything but it’s the perfect description of this outstanding Shiraz, which is a blend of grapes from low yielding vineyards  in  Barossa and Eden valleys. It’s named after the Greek god of the west wind and tastes massively intense with dark fruit concentration, mocha, clove and liquorice flavours, thanks to ripe grapes, low yields and 15% whole bunch fermentation with wild yeasts. It was aged in 30% new French oak with the balance in older barrels for a total of 18 months on lees. A fantastic wine.

 

18.5/20

2015 Sons of Eden Remus Eden Valley Old Vine Shiraz $89.99

Another stunner with massive dark fruit concentration and and powerful tannins; Remus is made with grapes grown on three vineyards; two 60 year old and one 80 year old vineyard and all cropped at one tonne to the acre or less. The grapes were small, which accentuates the powerful tannin structure of this outstanding wine.

  • Corey Ryan is no stranger to New Zealand thanks to a long stint as chief winemaker for Villa Maria in between his Barossa wine adventures.