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    100 years of Henschke Mt Edelstone – The Century tasting

    ‘2012 has been a year of milestones for us here at Henschke. Not only have we celebrated the 50th vintage of the Hill of Grace with the release of the 2007 vintage, this year also marks the 100th year of the planting of the historic Mount Edelstone vineyard. In addition to the 100 year anniversary we have produced 60 consecutive vintage since 1952 which is possibly the longest consecutive produced single vineyard wine in Australia.’ Stephen Henschke

    As you can tell it is a milestone year for Henschke, and milestones give you an excuse to look inward. To look back at where you have come from, whilst also looking forward to where you’re going (and want to be).

     

     

    Fittingly, we gathered at Sydney’s new ‘The Century’ restaurant recently to look at a whole suite of both old and new Henschke wines, led by the always thoughtful Stephen Henschke.

    The choice of restaurant was also apt considering its context – The Century is the latest iteration of Golden Century, an absolute institution for Sydney BYO eateries. It’s a new restaurant, based on an old one. Better still, The Century is located in the base of The Star, the redone and renamed Star City casino. 

    Undoubtedly though the main feature of this tasting was a look at Mt Edelstone, the Henschke families prized 100 year old Shiraz vineyard. It’s a vineyard which, peculiarly for 1912, was planted almost solely to Shiraz (save for a few rogue bastardo vines).

    What is most satisfying (for me personally) about Mt Edelstone is that – like Hill of Grace – the fruit from it is so distinctive. Even in the more challenging years – the drier and the wetter years – those fabled Shiraz characters always shine through. It’s a quality that should never be underestimated, particularly given how much flak Australia receives on the international scale for its supposed lack of terroir driven wines…

    Perhaps the only surprise was just how odd the Cyril Cabernets looked in this tasting, especially considering how much I enjoy the style historically. A string of challenging vintages really hasn’t helped it at all. Lets hope that it can recapture that mojo when the better vintages roll around (I’m thinking 09 for that).

    First up though, a few whites. Notes in italics are from the winery. 

    Henschke Julius Riesling 1998 (Eden Valley, SA)
    ‘Excellent’ vintage. pH 3.0, TA 6.3g/L, 12.9% alc.
    Toasty and properly advanced in a buttery, bottle aged weight and richness sort of mould. This carries some of the ‘mothballs and lime juice’ middle aged Eden Riesling characters on the nose, but with an extra layer of orange rind ripeness. There is fatter marmalade edges to the citrussy fruit but otherwise its taut and tart, the acidity a little hard tart considering how overt and full flavoured the palate is. Very much a warm and open year wine that is ready to drink now, this is a fraction obvious but certainly of style. Maybe a bit hard through the finish? Enjoyable regardless.
    17.7/20 92/100

    Henschke Julius Riesling 2006 (Eden Valley, SA)
    ‘Exceptional’ vintage. pH 2.99, TA 7.4g/L, 12.5% alc.
    Really quite restrained, lemon grass and floral smelling wine which looks quite nuanced really. Lemon, sherbety edges to the palate which again is quite ripe like the 1998 but has the finesse. It’s much more composed from start to end actually, the acidity a little spikey but otherwise this is right in the zone. Spot on. 18.5/20 94/100

    Henschke Julius Riesling 2012 (Eden Valley, SA)
    ‘Exceptional’ vintage. pH 3.05, TA 7.11g/L, 11.5% alc. 
    Pretty florals, warm year lemon lime splice generosity. Generous and sherbety talc and lemon palate looks open, soft and utterly generous. Already open for business with a softness to. I’d drink this early, it just looks so open and ripe. Much like a younger 1998 if anything. 17.8/20 92/100

    Henschke Green’s Hill Riesling 2012 (Lenswood, Adelaide Hills, SA)
    ‘Exceptional’ vintage. pH 3.09, TA 7.3g/L, 12.5% alc.
    Lovely open perfume on this. Very level and even palate too, with a juicy middle and perfectly soft natural acidity. Its just a little broad through the finish but it all looks quite complete and harmonious. Definitely a fragrant and affable Riesling this but with sufficient drive too. I’d quite like to drink a bottle of this with some salt & pepper calamari, such is its undeniable attraction. Yes 18/20 93/100

    Reds:

    Henschke Abbotts Prayer Merlot Cabernet 1991 (Lenswood, Adelaide Hills, SA)
    ‘Excellent’ vintage. pH 3.18, TA 7.2g/L, 13.7% alc. 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet.
    As expected this is fully mature and looks every bit of its 21 years. There’s charm in here though, the charm of a mature, leathery Australian red, full of brick dust and the treacled earth of bottle aged Cabernet Merlot. It is a fraction treacled and volatile and coffeed, the oak still lingering all these years later. The acidity is notably raised on this too, the full and meaty palate punctuated by a slightly tart finish. Much of the joy with this style is that mid palate and that bottle aged composure. It’s not getting any better but does show some old wine goodness now. 17.3/20 90/100

    Henschke Abbotts Prayer Merlot Cabernet 2001 (Lenswood, Adelaide Hills, SA)
    ‘Excellent’ vintage. pH 3.46, TA 5.9g/L, 14.5% alc. 86% Merlot, 9% Cabernet, 5% Cabernet Franc.
    A decisively Merlot dominated wine, all minty varietal characters, matched up with chocolatey oak and sweet alcohol. It’s a quite rounded wine underneath but there is no shaking the under-and-over ripe, ‘Merlot is a hard bitch in the vineyard’ sensation. Still, there is some chocolatey, warmth to be had. 16.8/20 89/100

    Henschke Abbotts Prayer Merlot Cabernet 2008 (Lenswood, Adelaide Hills, SA)
    ‘Excellent’ vintage. pH 3.59, TA 6.3 g/L, 14.5% alc. 57% Merlot, 43% Cabernet.
    There is a certain level of vintage derived blackberry juiciness to this wine that is quite attractive, even if it all looks roasted and less than varietal, the wine then capped off with firm, raw tannins. I like the caramel chew and condensed milk fruit/oak sweetness but otherwise it remains a lesser, stunted wine. 16.5/20 88/100
    (Postcript – I’m not convinced that 2008 is an excellent Eden Valley vintage by any measure. Good for whites, a less even one for reds. There are exceptions, yet it is not my favourite by any stretch).

    Tappa Pass Shiraz 2009 (Eden Valley and Barossa Valley, SA)
    ‘Exceptional’ vintage. pH 3.65, TA 6.1g/L, 15% alc.
    Very sweet choc berry fruit. Very luscious and open and vital if very sweet, concentrated berry juice. Too sweet? Lots of fruit viscosity but certainly too warm and obvious for me to really like. Impressive concentration and certainly quality making, just far too obvious for me. 16.5/20 88/100

    Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2009 (Barossa, SA)
    ‘Excellent’ vintage. pH 3.55, TA 6.3g/L, 14.5% alc.
    A certain white chocolate lusciousness to this. Sweet red berries and a quite open knit, red fruit style. Perhaps a fraction strained and fruity but on style and solid. Interesting to see this after the Tappa – I’d take this for sure. 17/20 90/100

    Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon 1993 (Eden Valley, SA)
    Exceptional’ vintage. pH 3.36, TA 6.8g/L, 14.4% alc. 85% Cabernet, 8% Cab Franc, 7% Merlot.
    Brick red but still looking vital. Very classic, if slightly green, nose over a wine that is mid weight and somewhat herbal in an old school, all leaf underripe form. The palate doesn’t look unripe but i do find the herbal hints a little distracting. A less than perfect bottle according to Steven (and previous bottles of this have been very smart). 16.3/20 87/100

    Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 (Eden Valley, SA)
    ‘Great’ vintage. pH 3.33, TA 6.7g/L, 13.5% alc. 90% Cabernet, 5% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc. 
    Dropping quite a bit of sediment. Quite a solid cassis driven sort of nose with lovely dark choc fruit and a rather regal composure to the tannins. Slightly sweet and sour, but still those lovely chocolatey tannins work wonders. The mixed ripeness may distract a little, but those tannins are sexy as. 18/20 93/100+
     

    Check that colour!

    Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Eden valley, SA)
    ‘Great’ vintage. pH 3.57, TA 6.6g/L, 14% alc. 75% Cabernet, 17% Merlot, 8% Cab Franc.
    A very different beast this one, the drought vintage written all over the wine. It’s dusty, raisined and curranty on the nose, the palate is quite mouthfilling and full, but nutty and simple. Much more like a Barossa floor wine than Eden Valley and didn’t move me much at all. 16/20 87/100

    Mount Edelstone 2012 barrel samples

    What a pleasure to check out these three barrels samples of Mt Edelstone Shiraz. They’re hardly finished wines – and shouldn’t be treated as such – but certainly interesting. The colour of these three in particular was absolutely stunning – like all three were coloured in with a purple/red pen. I didn’t score these, though there is much promise amongst these samples…

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    Pro Me

    At 18 I started working in a small suburban bottleshop, largely because I wanted to buy cheap beer. It was my first year of university, slogging through physics/chemistry, and a liquor shop seemed like fun. I then discovered wine, my uni degree morphed into something completely different and wine/beer took over my life.

    Twenty years later and I currently spend my days wearing many (wine) hats as a writer, presenter and marketer.

    You might spot my work in the likes of The Retiree, Gourmet Traveller WINE, National Liquor News or as a Lifestyle FOOD channel wine expert.

    Crowned the 2009/10 WCA Wine Journalism 'Young Gun', I've judged in wine shows all over the world and have a Masters in Wine Technology & Viticulture from Melbourne University. I also have a Bachelor of Resource & Environmental Management and went to Copywriting School, purely because I just love studying (and am a masochist).

    This site (Australian Wine Review or ozwinereview for short) is dedicated to talking about wine, beer and other good things. Largely focused on Australian wine, but with a healthy dose of tasty vino from NZ, France, Italy, Spain... oh hell, if it's good, I'm in.

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  21 Wines  from  18 Producers 

Thomas Wines Elenay Shiraz 2017 / Famously the ‘lips and assholes’ leftover barrels blend for Andrew Thomas, but doesn’t look inferior. It tends towards the bigger end – more Kiss than Belford – but with a chocolatey bite. It’s just a little bit warm, and the alcohol sticks out a little too. Quality, if not the cohesion of the single vineyard wines. Best drinking: now to fifteen years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $55. Would I buy it? There’s others in the range I’d open first.

9d 18h ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  16 Wines  from  13 Producers 

You need to be drinking more German wines.For so long now, Germany has been known for Riesling. Riesling (50% of world production) and Henkell Trocken. But here’s one country – along with the UK – where climate change has had some benefits. Suddenly, weedy Spatburgunder has moved up a notch of ripeness. Even Riesling has become more approachable, with less residual sugar needed to balance out razor-sharp acidity. It all adds up to promise, to a possible German boom time.

Of course, unchecked climate change will eventually swallow up most of the wine industry as we know it, but there has to be a silver lining, if just in the short term. And if you need any proof of the heights that German wine can achieve, let it be the wines below, all tasted at a VDP masterclass held in Sydney with Caro Maurer MW.

As ever, I struggled to put in the correct umlauts and write tasting notes at the same time, hence you won’t see enough of the former, and the latter are shorter than I want. Extra bits in italics.

5m 25d ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  10 Wines  from  9 Producers 

This month, it’s all about Pinot Noir here at Graham HQ, just because we like drinking it. And you’d have to argue that the best Pinot Noir in Australia almost exclusively comes from Victoria (with a few Tasmanian and even fewer South Australian interlopers) so let’s focus on that.

Broadly, the highlights here come from the (generally) classic 2017, ideal 2015 and good (if warm) 2018 vintages. 2016 was tricky for many producers (drought year, some dried out wines) and remains the outlier.

Of course they’re just broad generalisations and there is great Pinot Noir to be had from all through 2015-2018. If I had just one vintage to champion, however, it would be the perfect 2017s.

9m 6d ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  17 Wines  from  13 Producers 

The premise with this collection is very very simple – I’ve been hitting the sample pile hard over the past week or two, and these wines were not only the most quintessentially smashable Australian wines of the lot, but all weighed in for less than $30 a bottle.
Importantly, these are wines that I would want to finish a glass of, and possible many more than that. It’s probably a reflection of my own preferences, but that’s kind of the point – this is what I’d drink.
As a result, there is a dominance of Riesling, rosé and a smattering of light reds in this list, which is what I’d drink when it’s really warm. We drink plenty of other fuller flavoured wines too (particularly Chardonnay), but this list is just biased towards freshness – wines that may tend towards vitality and purity rather than weight and complexity, but perhaps more enjoyable as a result.
Drinking – not dissecting – wines and all at very fair prices.

1y 5m ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  10 Wines  from  10 Producers 

10 TOP $30+ AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS: I’m still working out what to drink on Christmas day. I’ve got most of the usual boxes ticked – Primo Joseph sparkling red, ’12 Giaconda Chardonnay maybe and a stray bottle of Pra Monte Grande that needs drinking.

But there’s holes in the drinking lineup in the red department in particular. And I figure that you’re probably in the same boat as me – that drinks lineup isn’t locked in at all, and at this time of year you want something memorable.

That’s why today I’m going straight for the big guns. And big gun Shiraz for a start. From now until after Christmas it will be wines $30 and above, because we’re worth it.

Here then, to kick things off, are sixteen Shiraz all priced over $30 that have passed muster of late. No bullshit, just Australian Shiraz in all it’s flavours and forms.

1y 6m ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  13 Wines  from  8 Producers 

Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2016 / 94 points / Outside of Tassie, if there is one cool climate wine region in Australia that shows the most latent promise it is the Macedon Ranges. I had dinner with a few Macedon winemakers a month or so back and there is a palpable sense of a region on the brink of greatness – like Canberra 10 years ago.

The biggest challenge for Macedon, however, is scale. Many properties are ‘micro-boutique’ level in size, with wine often just a part of the business. That is not a problem in itself, but a lack of volume (and low yields) means less Macedon wines on lists. Stir in a local council that seems unhelpful (and downright obstructive in some instances) and a surprising lack of wine tourism, and it makes sense that it is still a fringe region.

 

 

Still, the true cool climate of this GI is almost unmatched on the mainland. In particular, I can see a future beyond Pinot and Chardonnay and into aromatic whites, with real acidity on tap. There is a whole smorgasbord of interesting wines being made too. Like Lagrein (Cobaw Ridge doing it Südtirol style), Gamay (Lyons Will’s lovely light red) and Nebbiolo (Mount Towrong’s Valtellina-esque red).

Potential a go-go.

Curly Flat, as one of the largest producers in the region, carry the mantle in many ways. The talisman, with a national reputation.  Jeni Kolkka is planting more vines as well, so Curly will only become more important. Lucky that the wines are in a good place!

This ’16 Curly Flat is a lovely, generous example of Macedon Pinot Noir too. There’s tomato juice and sarsaparilla cool clime Pinot spice, but with plusher oak and juicier raspberry flavour. That combination, and the late bitterness, makes this a really enjoyable drink – there’s a real sense of fullness, the warm year filling out the palate. A bigger wine in context, but not to the point of excess. Nice wine.

Best drinking: Good now, but perhaps even better next year. 13.7%, $52. 18.5/20, 94/100. Would I buy it? I’d drink this and buy it.

1y 7m ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  21 Wines  from  16 Producers 

Wine shows cop a lot of flack. You need only read the feedback to my post on the 2018 Sydney Royal Wine Show exhibitors tasting to see that. But is it justified? And indeed do the more progressive shows (like Sydney, Melbourne, some of the regional shows etc) deserve the negativity?

 

1y 9m ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  8 Wines  from  4 Producers 

For this Yquem 1990-2011 vertical tasting all bottles were sourced ex-Chateau and with Sandrine on hand to check out bottles, consistency was high. My only gripe was that we went through the vertical at speed. But I’m always behind on top flights like this as I just get excited by the great wines…

Oh and I sadly didn’t get to lineup the ’13 and ’11 wines as it would be an awesome taste-off. Still, they’re both excellent and it was a pleasure to try them both on the same day.

Tasting notes below are as written on the day, with quotes from Sandrine in italics.

1y 10m ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  14 Wines  from  8 Producers 

Jim Barry Watervale Riesling 2017. You know what this wine is? A saviour.

When you find yourself stuck in a sleepy regional town with one supermarket bottleshop open, you at least know that this will be on the shelf. A vital, juicy, distinctively regional white wine that has acidity, fruit flavour and length, all at a price that is often closer to $15 rather than $20.

This ’17 is one of the better vintages too. There’s classic Watervale lemon lime cordial, if cast with a dash of green melon from a cooler year.  The palate is very primary, generous through the middle but then pulls up with prominent acidity and a slatey, almost powdered stony edge.

Simply delicious white wine for immediate drinking. It’s not a superstar in intensity or definition, but there’s soul here for few dollars. Winner.

Best drinking: 2017-2018 but it will live for ten years plus. I prefer it within 12 months, but that’s me. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12%, $20. Would I buy it? Yes.

2y 6m ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  23 Wines  from  1 Producers 

Penfolds Grange 2004 / Now here is a challenging wine to review. The reviewers are swooning, the faithful are lining up at the Magill cellar door, even the mainstream press is giving it coverage (great to see, more please). In short, it is a ‘loaded’ wine: A bottle of fermented grape juice that comes so full of preconceptions, myth & mystique that actual tasting notes are redundant with reviewers serve to only agree or disagree with the greatness.

So, at first, I thought I would just not score this, to be a self righteous knob and just rattle off some descriptors and the odd opinion, before leaving a hole where the score would be at the end. But, instead, I sat there trying to work out what, if anything, was wrong with it. Approach a tasting with the idea that all wine is perfect until proven not. Its actually great fun, but also seems counter intuitive with the whole critical tasting idea. In the end, I decided that if you were to hold up a wine as the model for The Ultimate Young South Australian Shiraz, you couldn’t really go wrong with this.

Purple, dark red in colour. Sweet, malted coconut oak, interwoven with really bright red fruit, like a raspberry bounty & just a smidgen of (classic for Grange) VA. Cocoa. Black fruit. Impossibly youthful. Actually, it reminds me a lot of the 2005 Moss Wood on the nose, with it’s surreal, sweet youthful fruit and oak amalgam. Its a purity of fruit and well judged oak at its zenith, and its hard not too love. I think, however, that as a young wine, many European palates would find this too sweet. Leave it for a decade before serving it to the Poms then.

On the palate, well, it is drier, deeper and blacker than the sweet nose, much like 70% dark chocolate. Palate wise its red/black fruit dominant and utterly Penfoldian in its firm, quit sweet tannins. It’s sweet, but so structured and balanced that it feels velvety. Velvety like Burgundy. Effortless softness that is so seductive that you don’t notice the tannins, even though they hang in the background, ready to kick. I think that’s called balance. And it makes this wine the hero that it’s purported to be.

So in the end, in my quest to examine this wines perfection credentials, I really couldn’t find much wrong with it. Perhaps its a bit too sweet, otherwise it really is a brilliant South Australian Shiraz. The only question, perhaps, is whether it is ‘that much’ better than the 04 St Henri. And that question is largely answered by your wallet…97 p

3y 24d ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  17 Wines  from  10 Producers 

Faiveley Chambertin Grand Cru Clos de Beze 2007 /’07 was one of the warmest we’ve had. Very early picking’
Animale. Meaty and quite forward with a roasted meat flavour. Clearly high quality vineyard and quite silky. Is the animale ugly though? Just a little gluey. Delicious meaty flavours. So long! Beautiful silky palate. If only the earth was a little less pronounced and this would be a heartstopper. Still grand. 18.5/20, 94/100

3y 2m ago

Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  12 Wines  from  7 Producers 

2014 Yarra Yering releases /Although things are about to pause for vintage (which is half over in the Hunter), a few winemakers have been in town recently, and Yarra Yering’s Sarah Crowe was one of those to stop by with a clutch of new releases under her arm.

As ever this is a strong collection of wines, from a winery that nails the classic, understated Yarra form. From what I can gather there isn’t much of these ’14s around, and judging by the traditional (great) style, I’ve got no doubt they’ll be well received – especially the excellent Underhill.

3y 3m ago

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