"The 58th vintage of Australia’s most renowned single vineyard wine – Henschke Hill of Grace (A$865) – was released in early May. 2015 was an exceptional year for Eden Valley shiraz, with a mild, dry spring resulting in fruit with excellent flavour concentration and brilliant natural acidity. Grapes were hand-picked under a full moon in mid- to late-March. The 2015 Hill of Grace conveys the excellence of both vintage and vineyard, showing intense black fruit flavours, tobacco, char, star anise and violets. It’s a wine of effortlessness and singularity and will reward careful cellaring for at least 30 years."
"Medium deep crimson. Evocative, complex and beautiful sage herb garden red cherry mulberry aromas with espresso mocha sesame notes and wild floral notes. Inky textured and pure with fresh red cherry, mulberry, blackberry fruits, fine supple silky sweet tannins, superb mid palate viscosity and underlying roasted chestnut, mocha, vanilla oak notes. Finishes minerally long with persistent sweet fruits and a slight kick of aniseed. Gorgeous wine with a very strong scent of place."
"From a single vineyard in the Eden Valley, wherein the original ancestor vines are over 160 years old. The nose is curious and laden with interwoven spices and flavours like freshly ground coffee, nutmeg, dried star anise, black pepper, whispers of cinammon sticks, lashings of cassis, raspberry, grilled blueberry, crushed slate (moving to a cap gun minerality space) and so much more. A myriad of different colours, flavours and spices here… they morph and change with the more swirling and sniffing that I do. On the palate the wine deep dives into the depths of ripe berry fruit, charcuterie, salted red tomatoes and saturating, quenching raspberry concentrate. This moves into pomegranate and mariposa plum, glides over salted and grilled Adriatic figs and settles on something elegant, salty, fine and exciting. This has finesse and power, energy and restraint, all couched in a most intense capsule of flavour and concentration. The acidity laces all these characters together, weaving in and out of the fruit, suturing the spice, oak and texture as one. A remarkable wine for now and for decades hence, although 15 or 20 would hit the sweet spot. I cannot get over how it marries lightweight body with power and concentration. It’s unbelievably impressive."
“For me, more prosaically, black fruits dominate with smoked meats, tobacco leaf, blueberries, dark chocolate, aniseed, and florals. Oak is still evident, but it is well integrated. The wine has incredible length, and the balance is impeccable. The tannins are amazingly fine and silky; the texture is supple. A wine with decades ahead of it. A great Hill of Grace and a brilliant example of how great Australian wines can be.”
"I briefly thought about just cutting and pasting the review of the 2014 into this space for the 2015 Hill of Grace Shiraz, but on further reflection, there are some differences between them—and isn't that one of the reasons we love wine? Scents of smoked meat and mocha accent notes of black olives and blackberries, joined by subtle notions of resinous herbs, while the full-bodied palate comes across as slightly weightier, richer and more velvety in texture than the 2014. Not as elegant perhaps, but more concentrated and powerful on the long, long finish."
"Effortlessly long, smooth and supple, this polished and uber-restrained shiraz unfolds a musky, peppery and faintly meaty bouquet of mulberries, cassis, dark plums, cedar/vanilla oak and paprika backed by suggestions of cola and sweet floral notes. Flaunting its rare restraint and finesse, it reveals layers of pristine translucently clear dark red, blue and black berry flavours supported by a refined, ultra-fine spine of loose-knit tannins and knit with creamy, cedary, cigarboxy oak, building in weight and lasting forever. A very different, distinctive Hill of Grace of exceptional quality and charm."
"Almost overwhelming in its complexity. Firm dried berry, fresh loamy earth, sanguine and roasted herb notes give this a savory profile at first. Additional details of roasted cumin seed, cinnamon, tobacco and toffee emerge, each new element building seamlessly upon the last. Dense, succulent tannins take this to the next level. Shiraz. Drink now through 2040"
“A record-breaking coolest January in 11 years and a mild autumn gave birth to a Hill of Grace of particular elegance. Its greatness is declared not in depth of colour or might of flavour. A medium, perfectly penetrable red more akin to pinot noir than Barossa shiraz unashamedly declares its restraint. The inimitable fragrance and spice of this hallowed place is stamped with greater clarity and fragrance than ever in 2015. It is the signature of Hill of Grace, brimming bountifully with Chinese five spice, pot pourri, rose hip, sage, white pepper, blueberries and dark chocolate. Every detail is laced together eloquently with velvet fine tannins of a suppleness only possible from vines of such commanding maturity, yet with an endurance that will propel it for decades. 2015 sits confidently and resolutely alongside 2010 and 2012 as the greatest expressions of the modern era of this fabled and spiritual vineyard.”
“2015 Hill of Grace is a sensational release from Henschke and it perfectly sums up the 2015 season – great rainfall in spring, mild summer with a little rain, long ripening and the pleasure of being able to pick each block, at will, without any pressure from the weather. As Stephen says, ‘it is a Goldilocks vintage’, but I think that perfect wines are borne of a degree of tension with a sprinkling of drama and so, I will keep my perfect 20 in my pocket this year. What is clear to me is that this is one of the most luxurious and glamorously upholstered Hill of Grace Shiraz I have tasted and for this reason, I would bet that everyone, expert and novice alike, will love it, and you cannot say that about many top-end red wines.”
"Five spice, tobacco, mahogany and charcuterie aromas precede pure fruit flavours, rich dark red berries, and silk sheet tannins. Stephen and Prue Henschke have orchestrated a shiraz that is both exotic and comforting. With just five years under its belt it’s drinking exceptionally well. Smooth, proud, layered, evocative and perfectly executed. Exquisite."
"First impressions deliver fine red and black fruits, a compelling array of woody spices that present themselves in a rolling sequence across time. A deeper acquaintance reveals aromas of an old fruit packing shed, the boxes and their contents, as well as preserved plums, cardamom pods and cocoa. It’s beautifully composed, a steady footing, immaculate integration. Not a hair out of place. There is a really satisfying diaphanous sheath of fine tannin running through it. Its layering and detail seems almost endless. Each time you go back to the glass, another nuance is revealed."
"Some might be surprised by how translucent a garnet this wine is – concentration is clearly no virtue here. Hauntingly well-integrated nose seems more evolved than that of stablemate Mount Edelstone – although admittedly I have had this wine in a young wine decanter for two hours – and would advise others to do the same. It's so much more of a Côte Rôtie than a Hermitage! Fresh and playful rather than brooding. It builds on the finish in a sort of burgundian way. Aromas of tar, iodine and dried brush. Great precision and a saline finish."
“The aromas are inky but pure; the flavours complex and elegant with dark fruits, subtle spices, quality oak and silky tannins coming together in a symphony of flavours that are delicious now and will cellar for 30 years or more.”
“Henschke says the '15 vintage provided stunning and elegant Eden Valley shiraz with extraordinary flavours, purity of fruit and acid balance. And indeed that's a fair description of this medium-bodied Hill of Grace. The colour is still bright, clear crimson-purple, and the beautifully balanced fruit flavours are vibrantly fresh. It would be easy to underestimate the likely longevity of this wine. One of the all-time greats.”
"Deep ruby-red with a subtle tint of purple, but it’s not a colour to impress with its density or vividness. The bouquet is vegetal, dried-herbal (think sage and thyme) and evokes 'forest floor' scents, crushed raspberries and a mix of subtle brown spices (think clove and pepper). The wine is full-bodied but far from a blockbuster. The intensity and length are prodigious but it's the refinement of texture, the velvet softness of the tannins, the sublime texture, and quiet array of flavour complexities that seduce. It is already extraordinarily detailed and that's part of the genius of Hill of Grace wine. It's a gorgeous drink now, and will be for another 20 or 30 years. This is one of the greatest vintages of Hill of Grace."
"A significant vintage for Hill of Grace, as the last 2015 red to leave the Henschke cellar, and a wine that delivers on every ounce of its promise and then some. The nose is so complex and fragrant with trademark brown spices taking center stage, amid light espresso, sage leaves, blackberries, cinnamon, anise, orange peel, ripe dark plums, pepper, gun smoke and a gentle, dried-rose edge. The palate has such impressive layers of fine tannin that make an instantly seamless, powerful and focused impression. It has architectural style with clean lines that build and ascend out of the finish. Long, spiced blackberries and dark plums are extruded in formation with such finesse and power. The acidity holds a torch to the rich, ripe plums and blackberries, illuminating freshness at the finish. A wine that will develop in a very consistent manner and likely to be at its best some 20 years from now. A collector’s dream."
“The signature five spice is there, with star anise most prominent on first taste. With time in glass, brooding, darker black cardamom. Dried sage, bay leaf, tea leaf and fine crushed black pepper follow through in the mouth, with penetrating fresh blackcurrant, blackberry and plum, with hints of malt, milk chocolate and vanilla oak. Well-defined, with incisive acidity and a fine but firm underlying fretwork of tannins, it permeates the palate, cleaving close – less ‘aromatised’ than the ethereal Mount Edelstone. Keeping its powder dry for the long haul, the layers are evident, but more compact, giving an impression of density, though it is far from dense. Like the Mount Edelstone, it is beautifully balanced and super-long, the tannins keeping pace with the fruit, the acidity an undertow, paddling, without breaking the surface. Going back, it seemingly built in the glass each day, becoming velvety, developing in spiciness and pungency too (black cardamom, liquorice, mulch), as if to underscore its power and age-ability.”
“Great shiraz does not have to be black as night, it does not have to be dense and it certainly does not have to be bold. This wine is much more syrah than shiraz, in a savoury, understated style. It is aromatically elegant, subtle and complex with baked earth, spice, aged meat, bay leaf and dark cherry fruits … Despite its subtlety the wine is also concentrated and vibrant, particularly on the palate with quite ample tannins. There is an Hermitage-like minerality, balance and strength on the palate with charcoal complexity shining through on a muscular finish. A really fascinating and surprising expression of Henschke’s Hill of Grace vineyard. Wonderful wine.”
“There’s intriguing darkness and complexity in a heady perfume of measured black fruits and dried sage, unfurling layers of juicy cranberry, Chinese five spice and black pepper. There’s open-hearted generosity on the palate, although firm, fine tannins provide a sturdy frame … And there’s also a luscious silky texture, with bright acidity and tannins ensuring sustained tension, without intruding on the extraordinary long flavours. Such precise balance shows the potential for excellent ageing.”
A traditionally wet winter, mild spring and excellent fruit set provided a great start to the 2015 vintage after four vintages with below average yields. Spring was dry and led into a very mild, dry summer with no disease, resulting in fruit with higher natural acidity, and incredible flavour and colour concentration. A dry, warm and windy start to January, however, resulted in one of the worst bushfires in the Adelaide Hills in living memory, though well away from our Lenswood vineyards. By the end of the first week, relief came with 60-75mm of rain and a record-breaking coolest January in 11 years. With the onset of veraison at the end of January, the rain was perfectly timed for the old dry-grown vineyards, and the mild weather that followed from February through to April provided for a fairytale vintage. Most of our white varieties and some Eden Valley shiraz were in before Easter, moving on to the rest of our Eden Valley and Adelaide Hills red varieties soon after, and eventually winding down at the end of April as the rain and cooler temperatures set in. The 2015 vintage has provided stunning and elegant shiraz from Eden Valley, that show extraordinary flavour, purity of fruit and acid balance with the potential for excellent ageing.
Low on the surface of the southern hemisphere in the Eden Valley, a small vineyard timelessly cycles through the seasons as earth, a 6,000 billion-billion metric ton rock hurtles through space. Circled by a satellite once called ‘Luna’ by the ancients, the earth completes an orbit of the sun each year. Spinning on its axis, one side of the planet is lit up daily by the sun, before rotating to night where the only light is reflected from the face of the moon. The forceful waltz between the earth, the sun and the moon, drives cyclical annual and diurnal rhythms – the change of seasons, day and night, and the ebb and flow of tides caused by the gravitational draw of the moon on earth’s moisture. The impact of moon cycles on planting, nurturing and harvesting – the moon’s ascendency in the sky and its phases from new to full moon – has been handed down through those connected to the earth for millennia. With such natural practices, the Hill of Grace vineyard has been nurtured by Henschke ancestors for over one hundred and fifty years. So what happens under the moon’s domain? The nocturnal world comes alive. Humans retire, butterflies are replaced by moths and the chortling of kookaburras becomes the low-pitched call of tawny frogmouth owls. In the cooling more humid air, vine leaves stop harnessing the sunlight’s energy and break down the day’s stored sugars, creating magnificent flavours, colours and tannins. Enzymes jiggling from sunlight exposure relax and begin to unscramble, ready for the day to come. Roots come alive, reaching maximum growth, slowing with the dawn as starch reserves are depleted. The critical one hundred and twenty nights from flowering to harvest allow the Hill of Grace shiraz vines to replenish as they ripen. Mysteriously most vintages whether they arrive early or late, including the 2015, are ready for harvest close to the full moon after the Autumn equinox (Easter). Decades of vintages have shown that this is the optimal time in the moon cycle for harvest. Curiously, by the calendar, the date of Easter can vary by up to thirty-five days. We like to visualise the grace of the harvest moon underlying the luminosity of the 2015 Hill of Grace with its purity of aromas, depth of flavour and silky lustrous tannins – a majesty and a mystery that takes our breath away with its grandeur.
Over 175 years ago Johann Christian Henschke came from Silesia to settle and farm in the Eden Valley region. By the time third-generation Paul Alfred Henschke took over the reins in 1914, the famous Hill of Grace vines were more than 50 years old. They were planted around the 1860s by an ancestor, Nicolaus Stanitzki, in rich alluvial soil in a shallow fertile valley just north-west of the winery. The red-brown earth grading to deep silty loam has excellent moisture-holding capacity for these dry-grown vines, which sit at an altitude of 400m, with an average rainfall of 520mm. Hill of Grace is a unique, delineated, historic single vineyard that lies opposite a beautiful old Lutheran church which is named after a picturesque region in Silesia called Gnadenberg, meaning Hill of Grace. Cyril Henschke made the first single-vineyard shiraz wine from this vineyard in 1958 from handpicked grapes vinified in traditional open-top fermenters.