Tasting Hill of Grace is often a moving experience, especially so in an excellent vintage like 2018. Using vines planted between 1860 and 1965, it’s one of the great wines of Australia as well as the world. Inky, layered and profound, with maturation in an 83/17 combination of French and American barrels, this is a wine that carries its power and concentration comparatively lightly. Five spice, fennel and vanilla pod aromas lead you into a palate that has intensity, focus and, yes, grace, blackberry and blueberry fruit, fleshy, sculpted tannins, deftly handled oak and a lift of freshness and acidity. A world-class wine from a unique site.
Hill of Roses is made with a Shiraz from the 0.94-hectare Post Office Block 3, located within the Hill of Grace vineyard in the Eden Valley. Replanted by Prue Henschke in 1989 with a much older massal selection from the Grandfathers’ parcel, this is a dense, compact, self-assured Shiraz that’s more Hermitage than Côte Rôtie perhaps. Mint, sage and rose petal aromas segue into a palate of blackberry, damson and dark plums framed by mocha-scented, 25% new French oak. Weighty and intense with the concentration to age convincingly in bottle.
It might not have the power and density of Hill of Grace, but Mount Edelstone is one hell of a wine in its own right. Vibrant, fresh and energetic, it’s the most northern Rhône like of the Henschke releases. Sourced from vines planted on red clay loam soils, the 2018 is a dry-grown, ungrafted delight. Matured in a 77/23 split of French and American oak, this is effortlessly complex and nuanced, with plum, black fig and blueberry fruit, lots of zip and acidity, a sheen of vanilla and potpourri spice, lots of understated concentration and a lingering kiss of a finish.
First produced in 2015, The Wheelwright is a tribute to Johann Christian Henschke, who founded the winery in the mid-19th century and is entirely produced with old-vine Shiraz planted in 1968 in the Eden Valley. Very floral, alluring and seductive, it’s the most perfumed of the winery’s Shiraz releases, with raspberry, strawberry and summer pudding flavours, nicely integrated vanilla and nutmeg spices, smooth tannins, subtle French and American oak and more structure and backbone than you think at first, building layers of flavour on the palate.
Cyril Henschke has been a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon in the past – the last time was in 2016 – but benefited from the addition of 2% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc in 2018. Named after Stephen Henschke’s father, it hails from a single north-facing parcel that was planted in the 1960s. Gracefully aged in 10% new French oak, it’s a deceptively forward wine that will reward cellaring. Svelte, elegant and focused, with layered tannins, mint, bramble and blackcurrant leaf flavours, a whiff of violet and the granular tannins that are a Henschke hallmark.
A nice homage to the brass bands that still play in the Barossa Valley, Euphonium is a slick, nicely textured cuvée of mostly Shiraz with 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot, using grapes from the Eden Valley and (30%) from the Barossa. Mixing older and younger vines, with ageing in French and 29% American oak, it’s something of a bargain in the Henshcke range. Perfumed and juicy, this displays sweet vanilla and Asian spice top notes, cassis, bramble and blackberry fruit, supple, caressing tannins and the freshness and energy of the 2018 vintage.