In the Bottle
|Grape Variety||100% shiraz grapes from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early settlers in the mid-1800s and grown on the Hill of Grace vineyard in the Eden Valley.|
|Technical Details||Harvest Date: 26 March-2 April | Alcohol: 14.5% | pH: 3.55 | Acidity: 5.96g/L|
|Maturation||Matured in 78% French and 22% American hogsheads for 21 months prior to blending and bottling.|
|Background||Over 165 years ago Johann Christian Henschke came from Silesia to settle and farm in the Eden Valley region. By the time third-generation Paul Alfred Henschke took over the reins in 1914, the famous Hill of Grace vines were more than 50 years old. They were planted around the 1860s by an ancestor, Nicolaus Stanitzki, in rich alluvial soil in a shallow fertile valley just north-west of the winery. The red-brown earth grading to deep silty loam has excellent moisture-holding capacity for these dry-grown vines, which sit at an altitude of 400m, with an average rainfall of 520mm. Hill of Grace is a unique, delineated, historic single vineyard that lies opposite a beautiful old Lutheran church which is named after a picturesque region in Silesia called Gnadenberg, meaning Hill of Grace. Cyril Henschke made the first single-vineyard shiraz wine from this vineyard in 1958 from handpicked grapes vinified in traditional open-top fermenters.|
|Cellaring Potential||Excellent, 20+ years (from vintage).|
Vintage 2009. 10 April 2014, Campbell Mattinson, www.winefront.com.au
From the Henschke website: “100% shiraz grapes from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early settlers in the mid-1800s and grown on the Hill of Grace vineyard in the Eden Valley.” Matured in 78% French oak / 22% American oak. Tasted this with Johann Henschke, who noted of the American oak inclusion: “It’s an emotional connection but we also think it’s been important to the Barossa for a reason.” As familiar as Johann Henschke would be with Hill of Grace Shiraz it was still interesting to hear him say: “Every time I taste Hill of Grace I find it a privilege. If I have a bottle at home I put it in the fridge if there’s any left over and make sure I appreciate each drop.” On the 2009: “I’m pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t a classic vintage. It was hot. It was challenging.” It’s a distinctive wine. It’s so un-Grange like in its flavour profile. It tastes like it comes from a garden. Truffles, blackcurrant, soy, smoky oak, saturated plums, fennel and crushed dry spice. It’s soft and mellifluous. There’s a clear herbal influence, in the most positive of manners. Tannin is infused thoroughly with spice; the spice doesn’t just come as lift, it’s ingrained, as it is in high grade charcuterie. Mostly French oak, and it shows, but a little American oak, and it shows. Remarkably approachable even though the tannin curls and lingers. Immensely silken tannin. Immensely interesting wine. 96 points
Vintage 2009. 1 April 2014, Tony Love, The Adelaide Advertiser
Perhaps one of the greatest SA wines from the 2009 vintage, now five years on and in a glorious place in its own lifespan. It has an extraordinary aroma, an intense essence of crimson, semi-dried plums and you'd swear you can smell the earth, trees and blossoms of its surrounds. Subtle notes of orange peel and spice then rise from the palate, as well as deeper layers of savoury herbs, fennel, and allspice, which add to the wines richness and complexity, and flavour the finish which is smooth, soft, long and fine. 99/100
Vintage 2009. February 2014, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, eRobertParker.com
Medium to deep garnet-purple in color, the nose on the 2009 Hill of Grace is a little closed, though it reveals notes of warm black plums, blackberry coulis and cloves with subtle nuances of dried Provence herbs, forest floor and lavender. Medium to full-bodied, it possesses layers of medium to full-bodied black fruit and earth-laced flesh elegantly structured by a medium to firm level of finely grained tannins, nicely balanced acid and a long finish.Drink it now to 2026+. 97+ points
Vintage 2008. 7 August 2013, Brisbane News
This is a no-brainer – the confluence of what is arguably Australia’s greatest shiraz vineyard, a cracking vintage and the seductive style of Stephen Henschke’s winemaking. 2008 is a great Hill of Grace that will improve for decades.
Vintage 2008. April 2013, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
Deep garnet-purple in colour, the 2008 Hill of Grace has a slightly closed nose before giving subtle notes of ripe black cherries, blackberries and violets with hints of cedar, pepper, green tea and cumin. There's a slight raisin character on the full-bodied palate with crisp acid, dense fruit and firm, grainy tannins, finishing long.96 points
Vintage 2008. 29 April 2013, James Halliday, www.mycellars.com.au
Deep purple-crimson, even after five years. Explosively rich and decadent, with sumptuous black fruits that have soaked up the new and used French oak and carry the alcohol with ease. The grapes were picked early between March 9 and 13 before the heatwave ended. Each block was separately made and matured, and the final blend is not made until shortly before bottling. – 98 Points
Vintage 2008. 29 April 2013,Huon Hooke, www.mycellars.com.au
Excellent vintage. Very deep, dark red/purple colour. The bouquet an explosion of mocha, vanilla, toasty oak, super-ripe blackberry and violets. The oak is still showing, as much as it ever does in Hill Of Grace, which isn't much. Very intense, powerful, full-bodied and long. A big wine, but all the components are in great harmony. Quite youthfully firm texture. Needs time and will be a great Hill Of Grace. – 96 Points
Vintage 2008. March 2013, Jancis Robinson
Dark purple. Spicy and racy and with real energy. Dry finish but lovely five-spice notes. very characteristic of the vineyard. Maybe you could even drink this with food now?
Vintage 2008. 01 July 2013, Nick Stock, Australian Gourmet Traveller
Newly released 2008 vintage which has swagger and brooding depth amid plenty of spice, plenty of dark plum and blackberry fruit and deep, dense tannins that deliver supple strength. But for all the intensity and impact, it’s the balance that marks this out as one of the finest yet.
Vintage 2008.1 July 2013, Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine
Very deep red-purple colour. The bouquet is an explosion of super ripe blackberry, mocha and violets with toast and vanilla from oak. Intense and full bodied with a long palate. All components in superb harmory.
Vintage 2007. Winter 2013, Travel & Living
This is an elegant, medium-bodied wine with fine grained tannins and the potential to develop for two or more decades.
Vintage 2007. John Fordham, Sunday Telegraph, March 2012
2007 Hill of Grace certainly has the gears to be remembered in the top echelon of the lineage
Vintage 2007. Mike Bennie, www.winefront.com.au, February 2012
Elegant and medium bodied to taste with long, ropes of supple tannins laid like broadloom. It’s seamless, notably long in flavour and layered to pleasing extreme
Vintage 2007. Jane Faulkner, The Age, March 2012
Packed with youthful exuberance
Vintage 2007. Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, April 2012
Powerful, fleshy, and loaded with spice, black fruits, cedar, mint and many other flavours, the wine is dense and amply endowed with tannins which are forceful yet svelte.
Vintage 2007. Tony Love, Adelaide Advertiser, April 2012
...shows beautifully ripe and rich dark fruits, a touch of spicy grape flesh and a sense of earthiness
Vintage 2007. David Sly, SA Life, April 2012
Even in the supposedly difficult 2007 vintage, it has the defining characteristics of the Hill of Grace vineyard - concentrated blackberry flavours with a hint of spice and cedar, pretty blueberry aromas, a clean seam of fruit acid and fine, gentle tannins.
Vintage 2007. Louise Radman, Sumptuous, May 2012
It is a wine of signature elegance, intensity and finesse that reveals the purity of its origins...
Vintage 2007. Dave Brookes, Dux of Len Evans Tutorial 2012, Langtons Wines, March 2012
On the palate the wine shows opulence and detail – densely packed with complex flavours while still retaining a sense of space and airiness.
Vintage 2006. 10 November 2010, Louise Radman, Adelaide Advertiser
Australia's most celebrated single vineyard shiraz, this is a wow wine, majestic in its overall picture of black fruits, dark spices and deep waves of flavour and texture.
Vintage 2006. 1 November 2010, Nick Stock, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald Good Wine Guide 2011
A complex and lively wine on the nose, this makes a confident impression and has a mix of cedary French and sweeter-smelling American oak, which are both clearly evident. Plenty of red fruits and the trademark five spice of the Hill of Grace vineyard; some baking spices too, and a whiff of black and lighter pepper. The build of complex spice is stunning and really distinctive, moving through earthy nuances and into more savoury elements. The acidity stands up early on the palate, ahead of sweeping and dense fleshy dark-plum and blackberry fruit flavour, setting up a soft rolling thunder of tannins through an elegant yet sturdy and structured palate. The 2006 vintage will age slowly and profoundly, with its fresh, dense tannin frame and bright, lively acidity. It’s beautifully balanced, make no mistake, but still very much a wine in the making that should be left alone for some time yet.
Vintage 2006. 15 August 2010, Matt Skinner, Sun Herald
The current crop of Henschke reds are the best I have ever tasted from this iconic Aussie producer. And they’re led by Hill of Grace 2006. Layer upon layer of sweet plum, macerated cherry, liquorice, spice and cedar run the nose, while in your mouth, it unwinds thick and dark with super-intense fruit, beautifully knit oak and a wave of stylish drying tannins to finish.
Vintage 2006. 7 August 2010, Peter Forrestal, Sunday Times
This is Australia’s ultimate family wine, made in tiny quanties from a single Eden Valley vineyard opposite the Gnadenberg (meaning “Hill of Grace”) church. Plantings date back to the 1860s, 1910 and the early 1950s. This is my favourite Hill of Grace since 1990. A deeply powerful wine.
Vintage 2006. 4 August 2010, Tony Love, Adelaide Advertiser
... is simply a "wow" kind of wine. It has rich, master stock and five spice aromatics, lovely exotic spices entwined with its black fruits that flow back and forth in the mouth, waves of texture and flavour with superb oak balance. Majestic in any terms.
Vintage 2006. 1 August 2010, Tyson Stelzer, WBM
I had a return to Grace with the 2005 and its successor confirms it. Pure expression of Australia’s most famous single vineyard, with all manner of exotica – game, five spice, beef stock and black fruits. Restrained power as concentrated pepper, black plum and mulberry rise and swoop. Silky, supple and textured. Amazing Grace indeed.
Vintage 2006. 1 August 2010, Robert Geddes MW, Australian Wine Vintages 2011
The relative (to the Barossa floor) gentle tannins and graceful sweet fruit structure and flavour of this wine puts it in a class of its own.
Vintage 2006. 1 August 2010, James Halliday, James Halliday Australian Wine Companion
Bright red-purple; highly fragrant spice, cedar, red and black berry aromas, oak evident but not excessive; it has a silky, velvety texture and mouthfeel to a beautifully balanced medium-bodied palate brimming with black fruits; wonderful length and finish. Surely one of the best Hill of Graces.
Vintage 2006. 9 July 2010, Huon Hooke, www.huonhooke.com
A rich man's plaything, but at least it is a great wine! An excellent vintage has given a wonderfully detailed, elegant yet powerful shiraz of great style and charm. Aromas of red fruits, spices and a hint of mint; in the mouth, fine-tannin softness and great length. Drink for 25-plus years.
Vintage 2006. 1 July 2010, Matt Skinner, Matt Skinner's Wine Guide
HALL OF FAME
With more than 140 years’ worth of winemaking experience under its belt, it would be very easy for a producer such as Henschke to simply continue to do what’s it’s always done. But then how would it progress? It wouldn’t. Instead, the current custodians of this family-owned Eden Valley-based operation, Prue and Stephen Henschke, continue to push the boundaries and question everything in a bid to fine-tune their craft. Under Prue’s direction, biodynamic practices are taking an ever-increasing role in the vineyards, while in the winery Stephen has been responsible for adopting gentler practices, which, coupled with his old-world approach, have produced some stunning results. The latest releases which include the terrific Hill of Grace 2006. The awesome Mt Edelstone 2007 and rare-as-hens’-teeth Hill of Faith Mataro 2008 – are far and away the single best group of wines I have tried from this Estate and the latest chapter in a long and distinguished line of offerings.
Vintage 2006. 19 June 2010, Ray Jordan, West Australian
OK, it's not exactly a giveaway price but it deserves its place amoung the great wines of the world. Lovely spicy concentration of fruit with lifted aromas that are floral and pure. Palate is intense and very powerful with a silky smooth tannin and oak-infused texture. It has real power and concentration. It's lively, robust and showing great intensity. Wonderful balance and poise and a wine that will cellar for many years. The spicy characters and quite profound. 97/100 ($610).
Perfect with roast lamb on the weber.
Vintage 2006. 30 May 2010, Winsor Dobbin, Sunday Examiner
I can confirm it is most impressive: fragrant, intensely concentrated with vibrant berry flavours, soft and velvety with the oak treatment reined back a notch. It is, as you'd expect, a wine of extraordinary quality.
Vintage 2006. 1 May 2010, Tyson Stelzer, Style
Australia's most famous single vineyard is on form these days, and 2006 will go down among the greatest. Its hallmarks are five spice, game, pepper and mulberries.
Vintage 2006. 1 May 2010, James Halliday, Weekend Australian
"Bright red-purple; highly fragrant spice, cedar, red and black berry aromas, oak evident but not excessive; it has a silky, velvety texture and mouthfeel to a beautifully balanced medium-bodied palate brimming with black fruits; wonderful length and finish. Surely one of the best Hill of Graces."
Vintage 2005. April 2009, Tony Love, Adelaide Advertiser
MAGNIFICENT 99 POINTS
"Captivating dark berries from great depths, subtle and sophisiticated with alluring mocha cream layers spilling seductively into the mouth, then gently exploding fruits, fresh tweaks of raspberry creams, and a certain tira misu character that references its aromas over a submerged layer of oak, allowing space to reflect on its balance, elegance and harmony. Magnificent, one of the greats".
Vintage 2005. May 2009, Nick Stock, Wine 100
NATIONAL TREASURE 99 POINTS
"Arguably the most anticipated release in recent times, this doesn't disappoint. Fragrant rose petal and Turkish delight notes ahead of deep-seated spice and earthy vineyard nuances. Blackberry and Satsuma plum flavours on the palate, a sweep of dark-spiced oak, rippling long through the finish. Archetypally perfect, this is a liquid national treasure with 40+ glorious years ahead".
Vintage 2005. May 2009, Ray Jordan, West Australian
Silky smooth and powerful, with multi-layers of complexity on the palate. The aromas are pure indulgence with a mix of primary plum fruits and blackberry nuances overlaid with spices,licorice and game. The palate has a soft, supple texture with fine, ripe, silky tannins. An effortlessly long palate that just floats on forever. Glorious. Good for 25 years in the cellars.
Vintage 2005. May 2009, Ken Gargett, Courier Mail
Sweetly perfumed with floral, spice, dark berries, new leather, coffee bean and orange rind. A complete wine, perfectly seamless. Ethereal tannins.
Vintage 2005. April 2009, Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au
The year's release sure smells interesting. Oyster shells and baked bread, violets and crushed spice… The palate though is a boom. Glorious purity and condition. Plum jam, crushed violets, cedarwood and barrel smoke. Velvety texture. Like grabbing handfuls of fresh blue berries and boysenberries. Like drinking an Eden Valley summer. Tannin reaches nicely but not necessarily elaborately through the wine, and it finishes with an exotic aftertaste of soy and sesame. Hard to fault.
Vintage 2005. March 2009, Jeni Port, The Age
A RARE NOBILITY
Old vines by themselves do not promise a transcendent trip in the glass. But, if the planets are aligned and the grape variety, the region and the maker are sympathetic and nurturing, they can provide rare nobility that simply isn't found in wine from young vines.
Vintage 2005. 11-12 July 2009, James Halliday, The Weekend Australian
This wine is revered around the world, and really needs no introduction. It has a fragrant and expressive bouquet of plum and blackberry fruit with a strong spicy overlay, with oak evident but not aggressive; the velvety, supple palate is laden with perfectly ripened black fruits and soft tannins in gentle support; has the hallmark seductive and elegant style of Hill of Grace. Screwcap.
14.5% alc. Rating: 96. Drink: to 2030.
Vintage 2005. 29 November 2009, Winsor Dobbin, The Age
No cause to whine when the choice is Grange or Grace.
After more than 50 years, the supremacy of Penfolds Grange as Australia's leading wine is under threat.
Fellow South Australian winemaker Henschke's latest Hill of Grace, the 2005 vintage, is selling for $510 at the cellar door and about $550 in liquor stores. The current 2004 Grange release also sells for about $550 a bottle - leaving the two locked in combat as buyers seek out collectable wines as Christmas presents.
In the US, the 2005 Hill of Grace sells for $US550 ($600), and the 2004 Grange fetches $US450.
Sommelier Stuart Knox, owner of Sydney restaurant Fix St James, said: ''Ask the general public and I'm sure that Grange is still No. 1 in terms of reputation but, for those in the industry, and for knowledgeable collectors, Hill of Grace has the track record to prove it can challenge Grange.
''They are wines made in different styles, but in a lot of years, given the choice, I'd plump for Hill of Grace … It's made by a family winery from a small vineyard with a lot of history. Grange is a bit of an anomaly, being a multi-regional blend. Take Grange out of the equation and Hill of Grace would be the undisputed king.''
In the US, Hill of Grace appears to have already taken over from Grange, although this has a lot to do with rarity value to collectors.
Only 25 cases of 2005 Hill of Grace were shipped to the US, compared with 1000 cases of Grange.
British wine writer Jancis Robinson has described Hill of Grace as ''a serious rival to Penfolds Grange on the auction circuit'' and ''a much more subtle shiraz''.
Leading Australian wine critic James Halliday says: ''Hill of Grace is second only to Penfolds Grange as Australia's red icon.''
Influential US magazine Wine Spectator rates Hill of Grace and Grange among the finest in the world, giving both 98 out of 100 in the current issue.
However, the rivalry between these two great wines is a friendly one. Henschke winemaker Stephen Henschke said: ''We are not trying to compete - they are very different wines.''
Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago said: ''Australia needs more wine flagships. After carrying the load for more than half a century, Grange actively welcomes more players to share this stage.''
Supplies of Hill of Grace are always limited because it is made from grapes from a single old-vine vineyard; the 2004 Grange is in short supply and on allocation.
Hill of Grace, the creation of the late Cyril Henschke, had its first vintage in 1958. It is sourced from the Hill of Grace vineyard at Keyneton in Eden Valley.
Penfolds Grange, whose first maker was the late Max Schubert, had its first vintage in 1951 and its first commercial release in 1952.
Vintage 2004. 20 July 2013,Tony Love, Adelaide Advertiser
Henschke Hill of Grace, about as magical and deep and meaningful shiraz as you’ll ever drink.
Vintage 2004. 30 April 2008, Tony Love, Adelaide Advertiser
One vineyard only, 140-year-old-plus vines, pure shiraz from a late-picking season, fruit ripe and finely directed with classic spiced plums, an earthiness and a handful of kitchen herbs and pepper, all unfolding bit by bit as the wine breathes, the palate surprisingly juicy, with a long stay of flavour in the back of the mouth. All there for a four-year-old and wouldn't you like to see it in five or 10?
Vintage 2004. 2 September 2008, The Age
Award-winning winemakers Stephen and Prue Henschke produce stand-out wines including their flagship red, Hill of Grace. Very deep crimson in colour, the wine is perfumed with sweet lifted spicy aromas of plum, blackberry, anise, herbs and spices. The rich, complex, textured palate is sweet, juicy and fleshy, layered with spicy velvety tannins. The outstanding 2004 Hill of Grace vintage has excellent cellar. ing potential...
Vintage 2004. 10 May 2008, Ray Jordan, West Australian - West Weekend Magazine
Stephen has just released the stunning 2004 Hill of Grace ($525), which he says is not unlike the outstanding 96, with its elegance and velvety texture though slightly more generous. This is a 100 per cent shiraz sourced from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early settlers in the mid-1800s and matured in all new French and American hogsheads for 18 months. It is a glorious expression of shiraz with its perfumed mix of sweet plum and blackberry sprinkled with a mix of herbs and spices. Such complexity, style and elegance, plus the extraordinary multi-layered flavours set this wine apart. 97/100
Vintage 2003. 15 October 2008 Issue, Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator
Ripe and supple, with pepper and dark cholcolate nuances and focused cherry, plum and fresh orange peel flavors…97 points.
Vintage 2002. July 2007, Nick Stock, Sumptious
One of Australia's rarest and most exquisite wines, nursed forth each year from a tiny seven and a half hectare plot in Eden Valley. The work that goes into each vintage is phenomenal and, when you consider that some of these vines have been in the ground since the 1860s, it's a privilege to behold. It's delicate, complex and fragrant, with star anise and pure dark bent aromas. Grace is the word. There's a haunting power in the palate, hidden behind fine tannins and pure dark cherry and berryfruit. A national treasure.
Vintage 2002. May 2007, Ken Gargett, Courier Mail
Henschke's Hill of Grace 2002 is a world-class wine, as it should be at the price. Refined, dense, youthful and offering a range of flavours including black cherry, other black fruits, coffee bean and perfectly integrated oak. Finely balanced and wonderfully long, it really is a glorious effort.
Vintage 2002. July 2007, Nick Ryan, Men's Style
This is the all-too finite essence of one of the country's more precious patches of dirt, the priceless Hill of Grace vineyard. It's all class from the word go, ethereal aromas of crushed violets and fragrantly ripe plums underpinned by baking spices and Dutch licorice. Sure it's not cheap but great art never is.
Vintage 2002. April 2007, Tony Harper, Brisbane News
It's going to be expensive, and it's going to be almost impossible to find. But find some you must, because it is simply the best Hill of Grace I've ever tasted, and I think I've tasted them all…it's a wine I'll be lucky to ever taste again, but I'll be dreaming of it for some time to come.
Vintage 2002. April 2007, Max Allen, Weekend Australian
2002 was a freakishly cool season that allowed the best brave growers to leave their grapes haning for longer than normal, to develop extra-complex, extra plush gorgeousness…dear old Hill of Grace is a rare pleasure.
Vintage 2002. 2007, Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate
One of Australia's legendary icons is Henschke's Shiraz Hill of Grace. The 2002 is 100% Shiraz aged 18 months in 100% new French and American oak. It boasts an inky/blue/purple color as well as extraordinary uplifted aromatics of acacia flowers, ground pepper, espresso roast, blackberries, cassis, chocolate, and smoke. This stacked and packed, full-bodied Shiraz possesses formidable concentration, moderately high but silky tannin, and a finish that exceeds one minute. A modern day legend, it should easily evolve for 20-25 years.
Vintage 2002. May 2007, Peter Forrestal, Bulletin
It's so tightly coiled, it's almost confronting. But it opens to reveal layers of amazingly concentrated dark fruit flavours, lavish velvety texture and balanced silky tannins. It will be a classic.
Vintage 2002. July 2007, Nick Stock, Qantas Magazine
Ancient vines, carefully tended, their fruit respectfully crafted in the winery, bringing pure delicate fragrance, rich dark berries, lavender and aniseed spice to the fore. Its deceptively powerful palate is cloaked in balance and elegance; blue fruit and bright cherry flavours run deep through fine juicy tannins. One of the greatest Hill of Grace ever made and Australia's finest single-vineyard shiraz.
Vintage 2002. June 2007, Ray Jordan, West Australian
Henschke Hill of Grace 2002 is the finest vintage of this wine I have tasted.
Vintage 2002. April 2007, Jeremy Oliver, Australian Wine Annual
A near-perfect Eden Valley shiraz whose deep scents of violets, cassis, cherries, mulberries and ripe plums overlie sweet cedar/vanilla/coconut ice-like oak, pepper, musky spice and nuances of undergrowth. It's supremely smooth and unctuous, presenting an intense, long and vibrant core of dark berry/plum fruit with a slightly wild and briary aspect. Underpinned by classically fine and powdery tannin, it finishes with lingering fruit and licorice-like influences. Artfully balanced and integrated.
Vintage 2002. February 2008, Joshua Greene, Wine & Spirit
After record heat in 2001, the cool '02 season produced a small crop at Hill of Grace. One taster described this as being complex and floral as a Burgundy, though from a different varietal perspective. The first impression is oak, a barrier to the fruit until it recedes and reveals the scent of forest underbrush, the dark savor lasting for minutes. The flavor is as saturated as the color, purple to the rim; bottled under screwcap, the wine should begin to show itself at ten years of age, and will likely continue to develop long after. Rating 95/100.
Vintage 2002. April 2007, Ralph Kyte-Powell, The Age
Yes, this is a stratospherically priced wine that few of us can possibly afford, but if you win the lottery or inherit a fortune, do yourself a favour and grab a bottle - Australian red wine rarely gets any better. Hill of Grace is a single-estate wine based on fruit from gnarled 140-year-old shiraz vines, grown on an out-of-the-way vineyard in the Eden Valley - and the 2002 edition could well be the best ever. That makes it a very desirable drop indeed. It has a gorgeous, complex nose that 's like a concentrated mix of lush loganberry fruit, blackcurrant pastille, sweet spices and beautifully integrated oak. It's almost creamy-textured in the mouth, with ripe, gently syrupy flavour, great length on the palate and perfectly integrated fine tannins.
Vintage 2001. 14 May 2006, Sunday Times
A shiraz of great elegance and finesse that shows restraint alongside wonderful concentration: remarkably vibrant primary flavours - especially raspberry and blackcurrant - together with impressive complexity.
Vintage 2001. August 2007, James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion
Dusty, earthy, black fruits and mocha aromas; springs into life on the palate, with wodnerfully long and persistent red and black fruits; gentle tannins and oak.
Vintage . 11-12 July 2009, James Halliday, The Weekend Australian
Australia's relationship with terroir - that single French word which encapsulates the multitude of environmental factors affecting the growth of the vine and the quality of its grapes - has always been an uneasy one.
We tend to focus on climate (one part of terroir) rather than soil (another part). Moreover, our view is normally on a much larger scale than that of France. Brian Croser has sought to address the issues of scale, and of the merging of climate and soil, with his concept of "distinguished sites", which might be as small as a block within a single planting of a given variety.
Stephen and Prue Henschke have by their deeds as much as their words taken terroir (or distinguished site) to its ultimate conclusion.
In their Adelaide Hills Croft Vineyard they have identified a single 2.6-hectare block of chardonnay, its 110-metre-long rows running down a hillside. The middle section of those rows produces grapes of exceptional quality, so the block is picked in three parts - a vineyard within a vineyard within a vineyard.
The pales into insignificance when you come to the Henschkes' 8.01 ha (yes, the 0.01 is relevant) Hill of Grace Vineyard. It is divided into 14 blocks planted between 1860 and 1997; eight of these are shiraz, the remainder a patchwork quilt of mourvedre (0.26ha), riesling (two blocks totalling 1.47ha, most planted over 50 years ago) and one block of semillon (0.53ha).
The shiraz blocks that normally find their way into Hill of Grace are Grandfathers (604 vines on 0.69ha planted in 1860), Post Office Block 1 (353 vines on 0.51ha planted in 1910), Post Office Block 2 (532 vines on 0.57ha planted in 1965), Church Block (750 vines on 0.74ha planted in 1952), House Block (870 vines on 1.08ha planted in 1951) and Windmill Block (612 vines on 0.88ha planted in 1956). It is true that most of these blocks were inherited, but the adoption of organic and thereafter biodynamic viticulture has intensified the focus on the terroir, as has the long and ongoing selection of cuttings from the best of the vines in the Grandfathers Block.
A recent tasting of each of these wines (which are kept separate until the very end of the 18 months' maturation period) from the current 2009 vintage was fascinating. Each is distinctly different from every other wine, yet there is a crystal clear family link. Even at this early stage you can visualise the synergies that the various blocks will contribute to a mosaic of aroma, flavour, texture and structure in the final wine.