Mount Edelstone (from the German 'Edelstein' meaning gemstone) is a single dry grown Shiraz vineyard planted by Ronald Angas in 1918 and through the 1920s. Henschke made wines from Mount Edelstone as early as 1952, although Cyril Henschke did not purchase the vineyard until 1974. By this stage Mount Edelstone was already recognised as an important vineyard site. Located on the eastern slopes of Mount Edelstone this 40 acre vineyard comprises low yielding gnarled vines, many well into their eighties and planted on deep red sandy loams over laminated siltstones. This low input vineyard is being gradually re-trellised to the Scott Henry system, where shoots are trained upwards and downwards to maximise exposure of leaves and fruit to sunlight. The oldest vines are trained on a traditional two-wire trellis. The site is cooler and higher than the Barossa floor although the climate is essentially Mediterranean. Vintage takes place in mid to late April. The wine is fermented in open top slate 'headed down' fermenters. Fermentation is completed in a combination of new American and French oak.
Henschke Vineyard Technical Information:
Location: Eden Valley wine region, 4 km north-west of Keyneton in the Barossa Range of South Australia.
Varieties: Shiraz, on own roots, dry grown.
Wines Produced: Individual vineyard bottling since early 1950s.
Age: Planted in 1918.
Average Yield: 6 tonnes/hectare (2.5 tonnes/acre).
Soil: Deep sandy loam, over red clay loam, overlying laminated siltstone.
Trellis: Five trellis types - Twin Wire Vertical, Vertical Shoot Positioned, High Single Wire, Scott Henry System and Smart Dyson.
Planting: Wide planting – 3.7 m x 3.7 m giving 783 vines/hectare. Rows are planted east-west. Dry grown.
Treatments: The vines are mulched with wheat straw with a permanent sward of grass in the row, so herbiciding and working the soil are techniques no longer used.
Maintenance Quality: Mass selection carried out over three growing seasons. Establishment of a nursery source block. Assessment of trellis systems and use of rootstock.
Rainfall: Average annual, 600 mm.
Altitude: 400 metres
Latitude: 34 degrees 32'
Longitude: 139 degrees 06'
Size: 16 hectares (40 acres)
Awards: National wine show awards for every vintage since first shown in 1956
Year Vintage Quality Optimum Drinking
1984 Excellent 20+ years
1985 Very Good15+ years
1986 Exceptional 20+ years
1989 Great 15+ years
1990 Exceptional 20+ years
1991 Excellent 15+ years
1992 Excellent 20+ years
1993 Great 20+ years
1994 Exceptional 25+ years
1995 Excellent 20+ years
1996 Exceptional 25+ years
1997 Very Good15+ years
1998 Excellent 15+ years
1999 Excellent 20+ years
2000 Great 15+ years
2001 Excellent 20+ years
2002 Exceptional 25+ years
2003 Great 15+ years
2004 Great 20+ years
2005 Exceptional 20+ years
2006 Excellent 20+ years
2007 Great 15+ years
2008 Great 15+ years
2009 Exceptional 20+years
2010 Great 15+ years
The 2008 vintage in Eden Valley was preceded by an average rainfall and a mild and unusually frost- free spring with regular rainfall periods. Fine flowering weather meant good set despite the expectation that the previous drought year of 2007 would affect yields. The vines also showed surprisingly vigorous growth. A dry and hotter than average early summer caused smaller berry and bunch size. Although temperatures climbed to over 40C around New Year and in mid-February, the weather from mid-January through February was the coolest for 30 years, allowing amazing development of fruit colour, flavour and maturity. One of the earliest harvests on record, which began early February, produced exceptional whites, in particular riesling.
In early March South Australia suffered an unprecedented record heat wave of 15 days over 35C. The unexpected searing heat seemed never-ending and resulted in stressed vines, significant leaf drop, escalating sugar levels in the fruit and significant shrivel. A cool change followed, which brought relief; however it was too late for fruit still hanging, which had literally cooked on the vine. Selective early morning handpicking, leaving shrivelled fruit on the vines, gave the best quality, resulting in some amazing intensely coloured and flavoured reds, in particular shiraz.
It was an easy season to practise organic viticulture and a season that demanded biodynamics to keep the vines healthy.