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Henschke Mount Edelstone Eden Valley Shiraz 2016 £135.00
HENSCKE MOUNT EDELSTONE EDEN VALLEY SHIRAZ
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 re-introducing 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 16 hectare Mount Edelstone vineyard, situated at 400 metres above sea level in the Eden Valley, was planted in 1912 by Ronald Angas, a descendant of George Fife Angas, who founded South Australia. Unusual for its time, it was planted solely to shiraz. The ancient 500 million-year-old soils on the vineyard are deep red-brown clay-loam to clay, resulting in low yields from over 100 year-old dry-grown, ungrafted centenarian vines. Organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyard are supported with undervine mulching and permanent cover crops. Three quarters of the vines are trained on a Scott Henry trellis to increase sun exposure and promote earlier ripening; the remainder are on original two-wire trellises to allow a drooping canopy and reduce shoot vigour.
The 2016 vintage began with well below-average winter rainfall, followed by a warm and dry spring, which enhanced flowering and set to give average to above-average yield potential. Low disease pressure was maintained by one of the hottest Decembers on record, though temperatures cooled down in the New Year and rainfall around veraison in late January brought relief to the dry-grown, old vines. Open, light and airy vine canopies allowed for good flavour, sugar, colour and mature tannins to develop at harvest, which was overall characterised by average yields but very high quality.
Shiraz grapes from the 104-year-old vines were hand harvested in the cool of the morning. Individual blocks of this single vineyard were picked separately and remained so throughout the vinification process until the final blend was made. Once in the winery, the grapes were destemmed and lightly crushed into small, concrete, open-top fermenters. A submerged cap was performed in order to manage a slow tannin extraction. The fermentations were controlled with pump-overs being performed twice daily. After 7-10 days and just prior to reaching dryness, the fermentations were gently pressed to barrel with the primary fermentation finishing in 80% French and 20% American oak (19% new and 81% seasoned) hogshead barrels. The wine was matured in barrel for 18 months before blending and bottling. It was then aged for a further three years in bottle prior to its release.
Deep crimson with violet hues. Fragrant, spicy aromas of black pepper, sage, bay leaf and star anise are interwoven with vibrant plum, blackberry and blueberry, and gentle notes of tarragon and cedar. The palate is complex and textured with rich and concentrated flavours of mulberry, blackberry and plum, layered with sage, black pepper and star anise. The finish is beautifully balanced, with long, velvety tannins and excellent depth.
97 Points - Gold - James Halliday's Wine Companion
'The vineyard was planted in 1912, hand-picked, matured in 80% French and 20% American hogsheads (19% new). The vintage was challenging, but this shiraz shows no sign of that. It is full-bodied, very complex and very long, the tannins expertly massaged and drawn under the fruit. Blackberry, tar and bitter dark chocolate all contribute to what will be a very long-lived wine'
95 Points - Gold - The Real Review
'Excellent colour, deep and youthful with strong purple tints. The bouquet is robust and concentrated, mixed spices, led by pepper and earthy notes, a trace of eucalyptus-mint, rich and dense as it is also in the mouth. A collossus of a wine. There's a lot of charry oak input and this tinges the aftertaste with a little bitterness. A powerhouse of a shiraz, and quite heavily extracted, but also superb. Long-term'
96 Points RobertParker.com
The 2016 Mount Edelstone Vineyard Shiraz is steeped in complexity, with aromas ranging from camphor, bay leaf and sage to smoke and grilled beef and from blueberries and blackberries to plums laced with spice. Full-bodied, rich and intense, it's ripe and velvety textured, with a long, licorice-tinged finish and dusty tannins that bode well for the cellar. From vines planted in 1912, I suspect this will come close to the quality of the Hill of Grace at a fraction of the price. Tasted again the following day from the open bottle, this was even better, seamless, flowing and harmonious in the mouth.