Henschke Hill of Grace 2008 and more new Henschke releases
As you can probably tell, such activities can be slightly frustrating at times, which is why I’m distracting myself here by doing something that comes a little easier to hand – writing about wines.
If I’m going to be distracted, it’s probably apt that I’m doing it with a brace of new Henschke releases, a winery that even the non believers, would have to admit continue to aim for (and hit) the high water mark for quality and innovation in context).
Over the last few years – largely thanks to the influence of next generation Henschke family members Johann and Justine – Henschke has gotten a little sexier too, the marketing more contemporary, the images less ‘slacks and sports coats’ and more ‘designer knits and jeans’. In other words, still conservative, yet a little less stuffy.
This collection of new releases reflects that evolution, the wines a demonstration of what Prue and the family have been doing in their Eden Valley trial plots. Naturally, not all these wines ‘work’, but there is no shortage of thinking and effort behind them (which shows).
Of course I haven’t even touched on the 2008 Henschke Hill of Grace, a wine that the likes of Jancis Robinson and Andrew Caillard have proclaimed as amongst the finest Hill of Grace ever released.
Personally, I’m not sure I quite agree, but it is an intriguing wine nonetheless…
The following wines were thus tasted over lunch a few weeks back, with Prue Henschke on hand to delve out a little more information. Notes are as written on the day. Extra bits in italics.
Henschke Stone Jar Tempranillo Graciano 2010 (Eden Valley, SA)
‘We’ve chosen a steep slope in the Eden Valley for the Tempranillo… It’s a little temperamental in the vineyard but makes a lovely savoury spicy wine closer to Cabernet’ Prue Henschke. A blend of 76% Temp, 24% Graciano. 14% alc, pH 3.52, TA 6.07. 10 months in used French barrels. RRP $46.
Currant and earth. Quite licoricey and brambly. There is a sweet and sour, brambles and cherry fruit character here. Teeters on the edge of being slightly hot but texturally it has a very good flow to it. Really dusty and earthen. Just a fraction too warm? Pleasant, earthy and open. 16.8/20 89/100
Henschke Rose Growers Nebbiolo 2010 (Eden Valley, SA)
Nebbiolo was planted in 2003 on a foggy hill in the Eden Valley. This plot typically produces just 2 tonnes of Nebbiolo grapes per year. 13.5% alc. pH 3.6. TA 6.08g/L.
Rather classic Neb colour here with a red core and a faint mahogany tint. 2 tonnes of Nebbiolo. Very savoury with just a faint strawberry jam jar on the nose. It tastes of both fruit and Neb firm ferrous structure too. Dusty, fresh strawberry fruit with firm but light tannins. I really like the energy of this – it’s quite a light Neb but has a willowy heart. Young vine energy carries this forward with aplomb. Lovely, genuine wine that is comparable to a good Langhe Nebbiolo in style and definition. I liked! 17.7/20 92/100
Henschke Johanns Garden 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)
66% Grenache, 29% Mataro, 5% Shiraz. 12 months in used French oak. 14.5% alc. pH 3.42. TA 6.3g/L. RRP $46.
Purple and very very juicy. Toasty oak. Looks a little contained. Oak is perfect actually, exactly what you want in a Grenache Mataro blend. There is a lovely juicy deep heart and lightness to this that is wonderful. Such energy! Lovely example of the classic Barossan style. 18.1/20 93/100
Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2010 (Barossa, SA)
70% Shiraz, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot. 14.5% alc. pH 3.59. TA 6.5g/L. 18 months in new and used French and American hogsheads. RRP $50.
The best Euphonium in yonks. Chocolatey and generous, rather juicy and shows both Shiraz and Cabernet nicely. A little fat and thick but otherwise very full and powerful and serious. Perhaps a little simple, but convincing in its flow and energy. 17.7/20 92/100
Henschke Abbotts Prayer Merlot Cabernet 2009 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Drawn from the Henschke vineyard in Lenswood which sits at 550m above sea level. Blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. 16 months in 35% new/65% used French hogsheads. 14.5% alc. pH 3.65. TA 6g/L. RRP $80.
Minty menthol and cooked plums. Distinctly Merlot. A fraction warm and heavy. Rich middle, thick oak, lean tannins and a little chewy. Tannins a little green. I remain unconvinced by Hills Merlot. Fresh acidity is nice and good tannins rescue the mintiness. But otherwise not a heap of joy here – it’s just even, or evenly ripe enough to be delicious. 16.3/20 87/100.
Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Eden Valley, SA)
81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot. 14% alc. pH 3.53. TA 6.4g/L. 18 months in 57% new/43% seasoned French oak hogsheads. RRP $135.
Incredibly deeply coloured. Almost uncompromising. Very, very deep. So deep, so firm and so masculine. Lovely elegant lean palate, dusty tannins. It’s a little firm and drying but such a beast, cut with Eden mint. Excellent intensity. Top shelf. Maybe a little drying to be really amazing? Great shape besides the slightly dried edge.
Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2010 (Eden Valley, SA)
14.5% alc. pH 3.48. TA 6.99g/L. 21 months in 88% French and 12% American oak. 54/46 new vs old oak. RRP $120. Available July.
Wonderful. Even better than the brilliant 09. Don’t miss this. Bacon fat, five spice and cranberry flavours. Lovely pretty cranberry fruit, sweet briary edges, fine tannins. Super vintage. Super wine. Amongst our best. That bacon fat wildness and black fruit and vigour is wonderful. Such a vineyard wine! Beautiful. Buy!! 18.8/20 95/100
Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2008 (Eden Valley, SA)
14.5% alc. pH 3.56. TA 6.1g/L. 21 months in new French (84%) and American (16%) oak hogsheads. RRP $650.
Molten. Perhaps less spice this year? Glacé purpleness this vintage. Black coal and oh so luscious. Licoricey, super thick and concentrated texture. Like a Barossan floor red in its thick texture. Still that black edge. It’s good but its still a little coffeed and porty, with a very un Hog-like treacly texture. Impressive in its concentration and seamless palate but ultimately a little indistinct. Still pretty damn good regardless, just not quite as great a HoG as the 06 or 04. 18.5.20 94/100