Well before minimal intervention became a catch-cry, Andrew Wardlaw had dropped the additives and turned down the winemaking influence in his wines.
Wardlaw is a smart, determined winemaker with an edginess, reflected in what he makes. His father was a winemaker and he was raised in the Barossa Valley. His early forays under the EdenFlo label began in the late 1990s.
The shift to minimal intervention practices came naturally. “I was growing grapes organically – no chemicals, no additives – so it made sense to do the same as organic gardening, to throw everything [undesirable] in the winery away,” he says. “I’ve been doing it for ages. People just thought I was a bit crazy.”
Best White at the Barossa Valley Wine Show. “It was naturally fermented, had nothing in it but fermented grapes and a little sulphur. People were losing their minds.”
His winemaking practice is now slightly different, but the intent is the same. “I like showcasing the vineyards I work with, or making a statement about a potential style from the Barossa,” he says.
2018 EdenFlo Old Vine Riesling Gewürztraminer (A$26) sees gewürztraminer picked early and left on skins for a day with the riesling components providing structure. It spent time in old barrels and was then bottled with minimal sulphur. Scintillating and complex, it has floral notes, whiffs of faint nuttiness, strong brown lime and ripe citrus characters. The palate is quite savoury with some mineral character chiming in. The baseline has a citrusy tang and a cavalcade of florals.
Four or five blocks of shiraz from different subregions and soils contribute to the entry-level 2017 EdenFlo Eden Valley Syrah (A$26), a flavoursome, medium weight red of perfume and slurpy, soft texture. The bouquet offers dark and red berry fruits, lavender floral notes, faint pepper and sweet spice with just a touch of herbal-bramble character. The texture is plush and velvety with more of the dark berry fruit tempered with licks of mocha and malt. A lingering spicy sweetness with a smudge of dusty tannins shapes things nicely. It’s a bargain for such character and drinkability.
The top of the range syrah is 2017 EdenFlo Eden Valley Old Vine Syrah (A$45) with fruit sourced from a single vineyard. “It’s more or less in the centre of the Eden Valley and a pretty special site,” says Wardlaw. It’s a “serious” shiraz – succulent, pure-feeling, soft but relatively tightly bound in clean ribbons of amaro-like acidity and firm yet feathery tannins. It’s got a strong sense of elegance but it isn’t missing flavour with layers of spice, strong graphite mineral character, lavish blackcurrant fruit with rosehip tea notes faintly present. It’s an absolute charmer.
Like Wardlaw, the wines are unfiltered and honest, full of character and slightly left of centre. It’s wonderful to make acquaintance with these high-quality wines.