x
  • Country ranking ?

    10
  • Producer ranking ?

    4
  • Decanting time

    3h
  • When to drink

    now to 2035
  • Food Pairing

    Roast Pauillac Lamb

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Winemaker NotesIntense deep crimson in color. The nose is attractive and enticing with aromas of sweet blackberry, blueberry, Satsuma plum and rhubarb, with characteristic nuances of oriental spices, black tea leaves, anise, tar and cedar. The palate is rich and concentrated with spicy plum, crushed herbs and Dutch licorice flavors. An amazing balance of acid, fruit intensity, weight and length create a powerful palate that finishes with long, fine tannins

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The Story

Nicolaus Stanitski, a Henschke ancestor, originally planted the Hill of Grace vineyard during the 1860s above the Barossa Valley. During the 1950s Cyril Henschke took his family concern back to wine and established the Hill of Grace label in 1956. The Shiraz vines – many now over 140 years old – are among the world's oldest genetic Shiraz plant material. It is remarkable that the vineyard remained intact considering the economic uncertainty and the social conditions of the time. The vineyard is planted on red clay soils overlain by sandy and silty loams interspersed with gravels.

There are several blocks including Grandfather’s Post Office Blocks One and Two, Young which is made up of the younger selected material located near the vines of the old post office, and the Church Block, House Block and Windmill Block. Vintage takes place during mid to late April, each parcel vinified separately to maximise blending options. The Hill of Grace style has developed along Grange lines, but by a circuitous route. Vinification takes place in open headed down fermenters with regular pumping over. Towards dryness the wine is drained and pressed. Partial barrel fermentation in a combination of new American and French oak follows to integrate oak and create complexity. The wine is then allowed to mature in the same oak for a period of about 18 months before bottling and further maturation. 

HILL OF GRACE

Location: Eden Valley wine region, 4 km north-west of Henschke Cellars at Keyneton, in the Barossa Range, South Australia.

Varieties: Shiraz (on own roots). Vines originate from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early European settlers. Riesling and Semillon.

Wines Produced: Shiraz – individual vineyard bottling since 1958.

Age: Oldest vines planted in 1860s.

Average Yield: 5 tonnes/hectare (2 tonnes/acre)

Soil: Alluvial, sandy loam over clay.

Trellis: 2 wire vertical/single wire at 70 centimetres.

Planting: Wide planting – 3.1 metres x 3.7 metres. Most are planted east-west, some north-south. Dry grown.

Treatments: Tilled and dodged for many years without herbicide. Only copper and sulphur used for foliage sprays. Now mulched and grassed down. Fungus problems are minimal. Vineyard can be considered 'organic'.

Maintenance Quality: Mass selection carried out over two growing seasons. Establishment of a mother source block.

Rainfall: 520 mm

Altitude: 400 metres


Year Vintage Quality Optimum Drinking

1984 Exceptional 20+ years
1985 Exceptional 15+ years
1986 Exceptional 20+ years
1987 Very Good 15+ years
1988 Exceptional 15+ years
1989 Great 15+ years
1990 Exceptional 20+ years
1991 Excellent 20+ years
1992 Excellent 20+ years
1993 Great 15+ years
1994 Exceptional 20+ years
1995 Excellent 20+ years
1996 Exceptional 25+ years
1997 Very Good 15+ years
1998 Exceptional 20+ years
1999 Excellent 20+ years
2000 Not Produced
2001 Excellent 20+ years
2002 Exceptional 25+ years
2003 Great 15+ years
2004 Excellent 20+ years
2005 Exceptional 20+ years
2006 Exceptional 20+ years
2007 Great 20+ years

 

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Wine Information

Parker 96 points: Deep garnet-purple in color, 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. Drink it from 2017 to 2035+.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

11 tasting notes

Tasting note

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Written Notes

Deep colour. Beautiful wine. Intense pure blackberry fruit with praline, vanilla notes. Incredible density and power with blackberry, aniseed flavours, underlying vanilla ginger oak and muscular tannins. Still very elemental and beautiful. Drink 2020–2050.

  • 98p

2008 was a year still in drought, after the very dry 2007 in the Barossa. It is said that Hill of Grace comes into its own after 10 years, but should I be worried, given this could be quite a ripe wine? But then I took confidence from the very old vines. They are so old because they have survived harsh conditions before.

When I opened the wine, I got a little bit worried, though. The dark violet colour was tinged with orange/brown. This would be interesting. I need not have been concerned. On the palate, the wine delivered its typical flavours: dark plum, kirsch, aniseed and five spice. There is no other wine in Australia which expresses the terroir as distinctly as Hill of Grace. Oak was noticeable in a support role, and the tannins were incredibly smooth and silky.

The mouthfeel of this wine was quite big, but very layered. The beautiful texture was well balanced with savoury notes. The flavours went on and on at the back of the palate and on the finish; beautiful.

This is a 10-20 year wine, not a Grange 30-50 year stayer, but it delivers everything it needs to deliver now.


Score: 97/+++ 

  • 97p

Intense deep crimson in colour. The nose is attractive and enticing with aromas of sweet blackberry, blueberry, Satsuma plum and rhubarb, with characteristic nuances of oriental spices, black tea leaves, anise, tar and cedar. The palate is rich and concentrated with spicy plum, crushed herbs and Dutch licorice flavours. An amazing balance of acid, fruit intensity, weight and length create a powerful palate that finishes with long, fine tannins.

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. 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. 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.

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Information

Origin

South Australia, Eden Valley

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Value For Money

Very good

Investment potential

Good

Fake factory

None

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Inside Information

The beautiful and ethereal Henschke Hill of Grace, first vintaged by fourth-generation winemaker Cyril Henschke in 1958, is Australia’s most famous single-vineyard wine. Current custodians Stephen and Prue Henschke, together with their elder son Johann, have recently released the 52nd vintage, the 2009 Hill of Grace, a quintessential Eden Valley shiraz with its pristine blackberry aromas, plum, anise and exotic five spice nuances, fine lacy tannins, voluminous freshness and subtle savoury oak complexity.

The historic Hill of Grace vineyard, which takes its name from the adjacent Gnadenberg Lutheran Church (Gnadenberg was a region in Silesia, meaning Hill of Grace), lies in a shallow fertile valley at around 400m, and was originally planted around the 1860s by Nicolaus Stanitzki, a Henschke ancestor. The gnarled old, low-yielding shiraz vines are dry grown and managed using organic and biodynamic principles to preserve soil moistures, optimise vine and soil health and ‘drought proof’ the vineyard.

The vineyard is planted on red clay soils overlain by sandy and silty loams interspersed with gravels. The individual blocks are named after local landmarks and the remains of the 19th-century Parrot Hill village. Several blocks were planted on their own roots using pre-phylloxera shiraz vines brought out from Europe by the early settlers. These include the surviving 1860s plantings known as the Grandfathers, and Post Office Block One a few years after. The Church Block, House Block and Windmill Block were planted with the same clonal material during the 1950s.

The fruit from each block is handpicked at optimum maturity and individually vinified using traditional winemaking techniques, which include the use of open-top fermenters built in the 1950s, together with submerging of the cap and minimal handling. After two years in oak barrels, the wine is blended and bottled without fining, before being matured in the Henschke cellars until release.

The highly refined, beautifully proportioned Hill of Grace speaks profoundly of place, history, generations of effort and remarkable evolution. It’s a story of luck, passion, imagination and drive for quality that has resulted in more recent vintages reaching another plane, by optimising magnificent vineyard resources, superb technical skills and craftsmanship.

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