With the debut of Henschke's Hill of Grace 2013, we tour the vineyard and tell the story behind the standout Australian shiraz.
This month's release of Henschke Hill of Grace 2013 this week marks a significant anniversary for the Henschke family, now headed by fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Henschke, shown below with his wife Prue, a viticulturist and co-director.
They and their forbears have been growing vines on the Hill of Grace in the Eden Valley region of South Australia for 150 years.
The wines come from a 10-acre single vineyard around the village of Parrot Hill and were conceived by fourth-generation winemaker Cyril Henschke back in 1958.
Back then, Henschke was doing something radical and unusual, according to Elin McCoy, regular wine columnist for Bloomberg and an international wine judge. The wines were rarities in an era when multi-vineyard, and even multi-regional red blends – like Australia’s other icon, Penfold’s Grange – reigned.
Hill of Grace was an immediate, spectacular success and remains the rival of Grange for price, quality, and demand, especially in the auction market.
The cool nights of the Eden Valley ensure that the wine is no bold monster red. McCoy describes it as “completely different from Grange, with a hallmark five spice fragrance that's utterly compelling, plus purity, elegance and an opulent fruitiness laced with minty, peppery notes. And it lasts for decades.”
Henschke Hill of Grace 2013 is currently selling for $825, although this year also sees two new wines addec to the Henschke collection – The Wheelwright 2015 and the 2017 sparkling Johanne Ida Selma Blanc de Noir MD.
The better value, though, is Henschke’s Mount Edelstone, which sells for about a quarter to a third of the price. It tastes of lush, ripe fruit with notes of minerals and dark chocolate.
In McCoy’s view, both wines have only gotten better now that the vineyards are farmed biodynamically, and the 2013s are stunning.