SYRAHMI | Heathcote
WINEMAKER: ADAM FOSTER
SIZE: 2000 cases
SOILS: Ancient Cambrian Greenstone (heavy, hard, nutrient rich red soils)
VARIETIES IMPORTED: Shiraz
In some circles Australian winemaking has built a reputation of being clean, technologically advanced, scientific and modern in style. This could not be further from the motivation or attitude that Adam Foster takes toward his Syrahmi project, which is one of expression, terroir, soul and intuition.
Adam is not a technically trained winemaker, but a Michelin level chef in a former life, before turning to the restaurant floor to manage wine lists for Andrew McConnoll and Alla Wolf-Tasker at Australia’s famed 312 and Lakehouse restaurants. With the wine bug and his regional roots, it was inevitable that Adam turned to the vineyard and cellar, exploring his passion for Rhone varieties with 4 consecutive vintages in the Northern Rhone with Stephane Ogier, Pierre Gaillard and Michel Chapoutier. He balanced this with Southern Hemisphere work in Heathcote, the region that would become his home, with Ron Laughton at the iconic Jasper Hill.
2004 marked the first vintage of Syrahmi with a small run of a single wine with fruit from the close-planted Greenstone vineyard in the north of Heathcote, just south of Colbinabbin township. Heathcote is a small but extremely distinct region in Central Victoria. It sits just north of the cool-climate, rolling hills of Macedon Ranges, though is more exposed, lower in elevation and slightly warmer, providing a dry and moderate, continental climate with warm days and a large diurnal swing. The unique characteristic of Heathcote which separates it from neighboring Bendigo is the soil. Heathcote sits atop a long narrow strip of hard, dry, ancient Cambrian Greenstone, which funnily enough is a bold terracotta in color and comes right to the surface (it will stain your boots or car tyres). The soils are 4 to 5 metres deep and have developed as a result of the gradual crushing of rock by two shifting plates over 500 million years. Large granite boulders are common in the south of Heathcote, with speckles of granite sub-soils persisting to the north.
In the 1980’s Jasper Hill recognized this climate and terroir as amazing potential for a unique expression of Shiraz and other Mediterranean varietals. After several vintages in Northern Rhone and Heathcote, Adam also drew his comparisons in the region and fruit from the two. From here, Syrahmi was born, with the focus of applying instinctual and learned old-world techniques to this premium, new world fruit.
Adam sources high quality, sustainably-farmed and hand-picked fruit from the close planted Greenstone Vineyard for all current Syrahmi releases. Following a 4 to 5 day cold soak the juice begins a natural ferment in open top fermenters, with hand plunging and extended time on skins (up to 42 days). Adam will be the first to admit he is a ‘stem junkie’ with the wines receiving between 60% and 100% whole cluster (one small, magnum only release received 130%). Maturation is always in French oak, a small percentage new for the Demi release, and large format Foudre for the Dreams.
Syrahmi wines are one of the truest and most exciting expressions of the amazing Heathcote terroir, they are wild in their perfume, picking up olive tones, graphite minerality, hung and cured meats with an array of wild red and blue fruits. There is an energy in the glass and the wines always show great balance. You can see the chef in the winemaker, as these are wines destined for the dinner table.