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Henschke Hill of Grace Eden Valley Shiraz 2015 £550.00
Henschke Hill of Grace Eden Valley Shiraz 2015
The Henschke family have been making wine at their estate in the Eden Valley since 1868. Fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Henschke took over running the winery in 1979. Together with his viticulturist wife Prue, they have taken their two single vineyards, Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone, and transformed them into two of Australia’s most sought-after wines. Through a combination of great viticulture from Prue, who is at the forefront of reintroducing native plants into their vineyards to improve biodiversity, and winemaking from Stephen, they have built upon their inheritance and turned this traditional producer into one that is recognised by savvy wine drinkers throughout the world.
The eight-hectare Hill of Grace vineyard is situated four kilometres northwest of Henschke Cellars beside the beautiful Gnadenberg Lutheran Church. ‘Gnadenberg’ means ‘Hill of Grace’ in German. First planted in 1860, it was purchased by second-generation Paul Gotthard Henschke in 1891, but it was not until 1958 that winemaker Cyril Henschke made the first single-vineyard Shiraz from the grapes grown here. The red-brown earth over a deep silty loam has excellent moisture-holding capacity for these old, ungrafted, dry-grown vines, which sit at an altitude of 400 metres. Organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyard are supported with under vine mulching and permanent cover crops.
A traditionally wet winter, mild spring and excellent fruit set provided a great start to the 2015 vintage after four vintages with below-average yields. The dry, warm and windy January, however, resulted in severe bushfires in the Adelaide Hills region, though thankfully well away from the Henschke property. Relief came with 60-75mm of rain and, with it, a record-breaking cold spell. With the onset of veraison at the end of January, the rain was perfectly timed for the old dry-grown vineyards. The mild weather that followed from February through to April provided a fairy-tale vintage. The very mild, dry summer with no disease produced fruit with high natural acidity, incredible flavour and colour concentration. This 58th vintage (54th release) of Henschke Hill of Grace was handpicked from 17-26 March 2015; the final pick took place a week before the harvest moon of Easter.
Henschke's 2015 Hill of Grace is made from 100% hand-picked, old -vine Shiraz. It was vinified in traditional open-top fermenters and matured in 86% French and 14% American (one-third new, two-thirds seasoned) oak hogsheads for 18 months prior to blending and bottling on-site.
The 2015 vintage of one of Australia's most collectable wines is headily scented with aromas of plum and blackberry supported by enticing inflexions of star anise and exotic five-spice. On the palate, it is characteristically full-bodied yet displays exquisite finesse with velveteen tannins and an enchanting texture. Its core of succulent wild berry fruit and liquorice is underpinned by fine, juicy freshness, framed by beautifully seasoned cedary oak; all the hallmarks of a superb wine with a promising future ahead.
99 Points WineCompanion.com.au
Henschke says the '15 vintage provided stunning and elegant Eden Valley shiraz with extraordinary flavours, purity of fruit and acid balance. And indeed that's a fair description of this medium-bodied Hill of Grace. The colour is still bright, clear crimson-purple, and the beautifully balanced fruit flavours are vibrantly fresh. It would be easy to underestimate the likely longevity of this wine. One of the all-time greats.
I briefly thought about just cutting and pasting the review of the 2014 into this space for the 2015 Hill of Grace Shiraz, but on further reflection, there are some differences between them—and isn't that one of the reasons we love wine? Scents of smoked meat and mocha accent notes of black olives and blackberries, joined by subtle notions of resinous herbs, while the full-bodied palate comes across as slightly weightier, richer and more velvety in texture than the 2014. Not as elegant perhaps, but more concentrated and powerful on the long, long finish.