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2018 Wine of the Year - James Halliday
Henschke's 2012 Hill of Grace has been awarded ‘Wine of the Year’ and ‘Best Shiraz’ by distinguished wine critic James Halliday AM at the Halliday / Qantas epiQure Wine Companion Awards 2018.
Very deep crimson, with violet hues. Captivating briary blackberry and mulberry aromatics lead to alluring exotic five spice, star anise and black peppercorns, with herbaceous notes of thyme and dried basil and slight gamey hints. The palate has incredible length and purity, with a focussed core of blackberry and plum fruit, wrapped by beautifully integrated layers of silky tannins and lingers endlessly with flavours of sage leaf and blackcurrant skin.One of the greatest Australian shirazes… It is a magnificent, flawless wine, with balance, length, line and purity. It has perfect colour, fragrant dark cherry/berry aromas and flavours, positive tannin and French oak support. As it ages over the next 45 years, it will achieve a lustre, a silk and satin mouthfeel, flavours and spices ever-changing and intermingling.
James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2018
LISA PERROTTI-BROWNWINE ADVOCATE
“…a little reticent on the nose to begin, opening out to a somewhat paradoxically tantalizing black forest cake, beef dripping, fertile loam and tree bark nose with hints of black pepper, Marmite, bay leaves, eucalyptus, licorice and baker’s chocolate. The medium to full-bodied palate is a wonderfully intricate mélange of mineral, savory, dark fruits and spice layers, framed by velvety tannins and refreshing acidity, finishing epically. This is a truly great Hill of Grace that has just entered the first stage of its drinking window and should continue to develop beautifully over the next 25+ years.”
TYSON STELZER ANNOUNCING TYSON STELZER'S AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND WINES OF THE YEAR
June, 2017“In walking the ancient vines of the isolated Hill of Grace vineyard during harvest, I discovered a personality to this place articulated in its wines quite unlike any other. There is an effortless, indeed graceful and calm purity to this vintage that captures the essence of this historic and celebrated place. It exudes a grand, expansive complexity and yet upholds restraint and elegance, alive with the classic Chinese fine spice that is Hill of Grace, the dark chocolate of Barossa shiraz and a sage leaf note that Henschke says is true to 2012. Tannins are gorgeously fine, intricately silky and yet commanding and tense, stringing out a finish of profound line and length, backed with the brilliantly taut acid line that defines 2012. Approachable and irresistible now, don’t underestimate the grand longevity of this season.
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
Henschke Hill of Grace is more than just a wine. It is an ongoing story of a single place on earth: of a family, of the perseverance and courage of generations past and hope for generations to come. It is a tribute to Henschke ancestors who travelled from Silesia aboard the ‘Skjold’ for ninety-eight days, on one of the hardest recorded voyages, to embrace life in a strange new land at the bottom of the world.
The La Niña pattern weakened during the lead-up to the 2012 vintage, resulting in below average winter and spring rainfall. July was the driest since the serious drought of 2003. Spring was mild with few frost events; however, flowering and fruit set were affected by wet drizzly weather in mid to late November, leading to only average yields. Summer was also surprisingly mild with below average temperatures from southerlies off the ocean in January and only two short heat events, at New Year and at the end of February. This provided for slow ripening which allowed for intense fruit flavours, high colour figures, high acidity and mature tannins. Rainfall leading up to vintage was above average, with the heaviest rainfall events in late January and late February, which tied in well with the natural physiology of the dry-grown vines; ie, keeping leaves active at veraison and ripening. Temperatures were mild during harvest through March, warming to an Indian summer in April, allowing for a long window of picking and amazing maturities with the red varieties.
Shiraz was a standout variety showing great purity and spice, colour, intensity and strikingly mature tannins. Yields were average with exceptional overall quality.
Henschke Hill of Grace is a story of loss, hardship and determination. The fierce independence that brought the German pioneers to South Australia to settle in the Barossa, the promise as they became naturalised Australians, the craftsmanship and doggedness as they created their homes, self-sustaining farms and vineyards. It is the joy that must have swelled in their hearts as they laid the final hand-quarried stone on their own church near Keyneton in the Eden Valley, naming it Gnadenberg ‘Hill of Grace’ in remembrance of home. It is the joy they must have felt at week’s end when they gathered to fill the small church with song.
Remembering our ancestors, the former custodians of Hill of Grace and their ability to endure and yet to always celebrate, we have chosen the word ‘Joy’ to mark our 2012 vintage of Henschke Hill of Grace. After the difficult season of 2011 that devastated the Hill of Grace crop, we were blessed by nature in 2012 with a truly beautiful and celebratory season; a long, slow ripening period that was perfectly timed.