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The 2010 growing season was preceded by above average winter rainfall. Spring was mild with little frost damage and gave us an even budburst. The weather remained cold and wet through spring, which held back growth until a two-week high 30s heat wave in November affected flowering and fruit set. Spring rains continued into early summer right through until mid-December, making it the wettest year since 2005. The vines responded to the heat and grew vigorously until early January, developing lush canopies, but bunch development suffered as a result.
A roller-coaster ride of heat spikes and cool changes continued through a warm summer with occasional thunderstorms. The vines went through veraison a week earlier than 2009. Lower yields coupled with the mild ripening period resulted in concentrated fruit. Vintage began a week earlier than 2009 and was in full swing by mid-February. The white vintage was all but finished a month later while the red harvest continued with deeply coloured, well-balanced grapes being picked during mild, dry conditions until the end of April.
An elegant vintage from the Henschke family's historic vineyard, this shiraz blends fruits from generations of vines. The oldest date to the 1860s, with subsequent plantings propagated from those original vines. This 2010 has the depth of flavor and layered complexity that great old-vine fruit can give. One taster compared it to the long, slow concentration of flavor in a braise. The fruit flavors that rise out of those umami depths add tension and vibrancy to the wine, a sour cherry note of restraint to match the tannic refinement. The long, juicy fruit flavors have power without any excess weight. Built to evolve for decades.
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
2010 Henschke Hill of Grace was released in May 2015. Fifth generation winemaker Stephen Henschke describes the vintage as blessed by nature, a comparison to the prized years 2002 and 2005. From a tiny vineyard site in South Australia’s Eden Valley, overlooked by the spire of the historic Gnadenberg church, the single-vineyard shiraz has quietly carved out a name alongside the great single-vineyard wines of the world.
Pioneered by fourth generation winemaker Cyril Henschke in 1958, the release of 2010 Hill of Grace marks the 52nd season and the 32nd wine crafted by Stephen and his viticulturist wife Prue. Henschke Hill of Grace is held in the greatest esteem by generations of Australian and international wine lovers. Deeply connected to the Australian landscape, each vintage represents a piece of the journey of the Australian wine story. Following the philosophy of Henschke forebears, Henschke Hill of Grace is carefully nurtured using biodynamic and organic principles. The yield from the dry-grown ancestral vines now over 150 years of age, is always low with the small berries delivering incomparable texture and complexity.
2010 is a beautifully balanced wine; from a season that was perfect in many ways. I could sit and savour the nose on this wine for hours; exotic spices, sage, pepper and rich layers of blackberry, plum and cedar. These amazing old vines delivered a complex palate of dark brooding flavours, texture and refined silky tannins with incredible length.