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November 14, 2010

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Canberra wine wins capital prize

AUSTRALIA'S capital Canberra, known more for political infighting than vintages, may be about to start making its mark on the international wine scene with help from Eden Road Wines, which has taken a national award.

What's more, the company is a two-year-old upstart that doesn't even own its own vineyard.

"I feel very privileged," said Eden Road winemaker Nick Spencer. "I was among some very well regarded winemakers and wineries, so it was an honor and quite humbling to have won such an award."

Eden Road was named Best New Winery last Monday at the inaugural Good Wine Awards in South Australia, where 1,250 wines were tasted and 35 wines and wineries won awards.

It represents a new breed of wineries that don't own their own vineyards, choosing instead to cart grapes in from around the region.

"Our company has only been around for two years so we're still trying to find our feet, but it's not unusual now to not own vineyards," said Spencer, who took the award with the first vintage produced under his own label.

Out of 1,250 wines tasted, 35 wines and wineries were honored.

Though the Canberra region has been far from famous among Australia's 60 designated wine regions to date, this may be about to change, said awards presenter Nick Stock, the author of a wine guidebook.

White wine

Canberra has a population of 345,000 and lies 286 kilometers southwest of Sydney.

"Definitely the Canberra district is providing some of the most exciting white wines like dry Riesling and spicy cool-climate Shiraz," he said.

"A relatively small number of producers are punching well above their weight in terms of overall wine quality."

Australia's wine regions cover around 160,000 hectares. It is the world's fourth largest exporter of wine, selling to more than 2,100 countries and contributing US$5.56 billion to the economy each year.

Canberra's wine district was established in 1971 and, with the help of its continental climate, specializes in Chardonnay, Riesling and Shiraz.

Spencer said there has been a big swing towards cooler-climate style wines on an international level which, with luck, will put Canberra on the map.

"I think Canberra will continue to produce some of the best wines in Australia and people will recognize it as a serious region," he added.


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