One of the biggest days on the Australian wine calendar is almost here – the new vintage release of Henschke’s single vineyard wines, including the iconic Hill of Grace from 2016. Henschke’s Hill of Grace has an unrivalled history in Australian single vineyard wines thanks to its almost uninterrupted line of vintages stretching back to 1958. And after all these years it is still largely based on the original Hill of Grace Grandfather vines, planted around 1860. The Hill of Grace is also one of the most beautiful vineyards in Australia, if not the world.
This year the Hill of Grace release is unusually partnered with the launch of Mount Edelstone from the same vintage. Mount Edelstone actually predates the Hill of Grace wine, with its first release back in 1952. The wine is still made from the original Mount Edelstone vineyard planted in 1912.
Perhaps the most fascinating component of this year’s releases is the Hill of Roses Shiraz 2016. The Hill of Roses is created from younger vine fruit taken off the Hill of Grace vineyard, and a particular part known as the Post Office Block. The area where the Hill of Grace vineyard was planted was historically also a small town, with the remains of the local Parrot Hill Post Office still sitting across the road from this vineyard. It has taken some years for the Hill of Roses to rise up but this wine is now absolutely close to the top of the tree in the Henschke portfolio.
Tasting all three wines together provides a fascinating journey through Eden Valley Shiraz, from the raw power of Mount Edelstone to the perfumed beauty of Hill of Roses and then to the complete package that is Hill of Grace.
To celebrate the launch of Hill of Grace, Winepilot hosted a tasting this week of the new range with some of Australia’s top wine experts, including Jeni Port, Andrea Pritzker MW, Simon Curkovic and Melissa Moore, joined by Justine, Stephen and Prue Henschke to get not only the opinions from leading critics and sommeliers but also to hear direct from the family about these wines and what they mean to them personally. The wines will be available from Wednesday May 5.
Watch the full tasting with Stephen, Prue and Justine Henschke
Stephen and Prue discuss the 2018 and 2016 Eden Valley vintages
Henschke Hill of Grace Eden Valley Shiraz 2016
$890 – Drink 2028 – 2050
In discussions with Stephen Henschke about this wine the term tightly coiled kept coming up. While the 2015 vintage was already showing its complexity this wine, like the 2016 Mount Edelstone Shiraz, is a different beast altogether. It’s still holding all the cards close to its chest, even after being open for a couple of days. But ever so slowly the door was opened and it has shown itself to be a magnificent vintage, built for the long haul thanks to a rare combination of sheer power, composure and balance.
Deeply coloured, there are many layers of dark fruit with a light dusting of dried sage, meat and peppery spice. A little floral element adds a nice touch. There is then fantastic impact on the palate and density of fruit, which is still tight and firm. Waves of dark fruit are lifted by earthy spice and wrapped up in a blanket of tannins which help to draw out a long and strong finish which, combined with raw power, makes this wine close to perfection. It does not move for minutes and retains its youthful vitality so you can be sure it is a keeper for the long term.
Henschke Hill of Roses Eden Valley Shiraz 2016
$415 – Drink 2021 – 2033
For mine, this is a big step up on previous years and is a wine that is hard to put down. It’s incredibly complex right now with ripe cranberry and blackberry fruits, but it is the secondary ethereal layers that sets it apart. Leather, spice, Potpourri with fennel seed and white pepper, plus subtle spicy oak in the background. It’s ripe and generous on the palate but retains beautiful poise in a long, elegant package. There is structure too but it is all tucked in behind what are exceptional fruits. I can definitely see plenty of people preferring this over the Hill of Grace, especially over the next decade.
Henschke Mount Edelstone Eden Valley Shiraz 2016
$225 – Drink 2025 – 2038
Mount Edelstone is in great form with this wine particularly well built for the cellar. It is a fascinating wine with so many twists and turns. It opens up with super bright, bold and even slightly simple fruits. But then a second wave comes through – tar, liquorice, five spice and fennel seed with coal dust and olive tapenade thrown in. There is a delicious dark heart to this wine which is reinforced on the palate by a wall of tannins to support that dense fruit. It’s bold for Mount Edelstone but never loses its shape which, with exceptional length, bodes very well for the future. Just give it a little time.
Henschke Tappa Pass Barossa Shiraz 2018
$115 – Drink 2021 – 2029
Drawn from two family vineyards, one in the Eden Valley with the other just a kilometre away and located in the broader Barossa zone, this is a wine that beautifully walks that line of ripe fruit and detailed slightly cooler climate complexity. Deeply coloured there is a big, solid core of ripe dark fruits – blueberry and boysenberry matched up with sweet oak with a dusting of dried herbs and spice. It’s then surprisingly juicy on the palate – crunchy acidity drives that dark fruit home which is now lifted by liquorice and fruit pastille flavours. It’s fleshy and lush too, with tannins relatively supple which underpin a long, silky finish. So drinkable now and over the medium term.