26 September 2023

Henschke’s Long Tradition

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By Christine Salins.


Mount Edelstone Shiraz

In South Australia’s Eden Valley, the stone walls of a 1950s woolstore and 1860s grain barn provide the backdrop for the Henschke cellar door. Here, watched over by portraits of Henschke forebears, you can go on a tasting journey with one of Australia’s most esteemed wine labels.

In 2018, the company celebrated 150 years of winemaking, marking the occasion with the release of the 2013 Henschke Hill of Grace, a Shiraz that is hailed internationally as the pinnacle of Australian winemaking.

Crafted from a tiny four-hectare historic dry-grown vineyard in the Eden Valley, Hill of Grace is the most celebrated of the wines made by Stephen and Prue Henschke. The vines that Hill of Grace come from are believed to be among the oldest producing vines in the world.

Drawing on organic and biodynamic principles, the Henschkes craft their white wines with a focus on purity, and their red wines with a strong sense of place. From the work in the vineyard to the techniques used in the winery, they lavish meticulous care and attention to detail at every stage.

After six generations of grape-growing and winemaking, Henschke remains proudly in family hands. It is a founding member of Australia’s First Families of Wine.

Fourth-generation winemaker, Cyril Henschke, was a pioneer of single-varietal and single-vineyard table wines in Australia, his greatest legacy being the creation of Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone Shiraz in the 1950s.

Noble Semillon

Neither are wines I get to taste very often, but you could think of the Mount Edelstone as a wine for those who like to indulge but who don’t want to stump up the stratospheric prices that Hill of Grace commands.

In recent years, Cyril’s son, owner and chief winemaker Stephen Henschke, and Stephen’s viticulturist wife Prue have welcomed the next generation into the business. Since Prue’s appointment as viticulturist in 1987, she has continued the preservation of old vines, at the same time bringing new varieties like Nebbiolo into the fold.

Last year, Henschke was voted No. 4 in the Drinks International ‘World’s Most Admired Wine Brands 2021’. Along with this accolade came the regional award for the ‘Most Admired Wine Brand in Australasia’. Last year, Hill of Grace Vineyard was named Old Vineyard of the Year in the 2021 Vineyard of the Year Awards.

Henschke 2016 Mount Edelstone Shiraz, $225: This one probably should have been put away for a few more years but thanks to good friends (and wine-tasting buddies) here we are tasting one of Australia’s finest wines. Earthy and complex with cherry, vanilla and licorice aromas, notes of blackberry, plum and black pepper, a hint of chocolate and enticing spicy characters. An epic wine, densely coloured, concentrated and powerful with firm but fine tannins and a long finish. It would pair beautifully with smoked or grilled meats.

Henschke 2016 Noble Semillon, $40: What a wine to cosy up to! I adored this beautiful dessert wine. Pale gold in colour, it is fragrant, silky smooth and delicious without being cloying. Despite the intense and alluring honey, pear and candied citrus flavours, it is actually very subtle. A touch of cinnamon and a gloriously long finish keep the attraction going. Very special indeed.

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