"There's a certain amount of hype surrounding the release of Henschke’s revered Hill of Grace. For collectors and wine aficionados, anyway. The fuss is merited. This is the 59th vintage (55th release) and buzzes with energy. The nose is fresh, fragrant, and beckons... "drink me". Make like Alice and oblige, tumbling through an Eden Valley Wonderland of plush dark fruit and playful red berries. Such elegance. It is a deep and meaningful in a glass."
"This is the embodiment of elegance, sweeping you through its colour (bright, not dense), bouquet (raspberry, plum and wild blackberry) and palate (a bowl of sombre fruit) held in the arms of tannins with no chance of fading in the next 30 years."
"Five spice and some dry wild thyme, turned dark earth and Dutch licorice, some coriander seed and old floorboards. This is the view from the edge of a precipice, peering into the abyss. Wondering what you might learn if you threw yourself in, knowing it would be a long fall. It’s a precisely balanced wine, utterly assured. Finely etched and full of intricate detail."
"Finesse, balance, elegance, power, a wine dancing on the knife-edge of intensity and grace. Seamless, such a gloriously supple texture, and amazing length. Yet all the time, one is reminded at just how youthful this wine is. There is complexity, but undoubtedly not to the extent that will be apparent as this wine unfolds over the next decade. Spices, black fruits, cassis, fresh leather, blueberries, sage, coffee beans, soy, even a whiff of cocoa powder. Finely integrated oak, giving the wine a creamy note. The flavours come in waves and are carefully held in place by impressive structure and those silky tannins. The finish persists endlessly and all throughout, maintains its intensity. Thirty years? Forty years? Who knows, but it hardly matters. Provided your cellaring conditions are top notch, this should age and improve for as long as you want."
"Another glorious statement of seriously old-vine shiraz from this famous pre-phylloxera vineyard in Eden Valley. In fact, the vines are believed to be about 180 years old. This is quite simply extraordinary. Dense and concentrated boot polish, sage and dark, earthy, plum, blackberry concentrate. It is so deeply intense and powerfully framed yet so effortlessly long and sustained. Multi-layered, textured, with driving intensity. It is a wine that will cellar for decades and be remembered as one of the greats."
"This magnificent red is seamless and creamy, with complex details creating a balanced chorus of flavors, showing notes of white truffle, maraschino cherry, succulent apricot, dark roast coffee, salted caramel and toasted cumin seed. Though full-bodied, this is so polished and supple it has an effortless air about it, with a long, epic finish."
"Huge fragrance, all that exotic spice, old spice cupboard, pepper, cinnamon, salted liquorice, dried flowers, dried leaves, blackcurrants, plum. A very epic perfume. Haunting, beautiful, draws you in to find all those details. Intensity is the word for flavours. So powerful yet a sense of restraint, a tension between the concentration and the taut webbing of acidity and fine, suede tannins with exceptional length. The layers here, the grace, the texture. Accessible and formidable now, so much good of everything, though wait for this one too."
"Medium deep crimson. Intense and fragrant blackberry pastille, dark plum, herb garden, sage aromas, underlying vanilla, roasted chestnut notes and hints of star anise. Complex and pure-fruited with blackberry, dark plum, mulberry flavours, integrated vanilla, roasted chestnut (oak) notes, some chinotto nuances and fine supple and vigorous velvetine/ al-dente tannins, lovely buoyancy/mid-palate viscosity and fresh long mineral acidity. Finishes claret-firm with plentiful sweet and savoury notes. A seductive yet elegant wine with superb vinosity, complexity and resonance. Unmistakably Hill of Grace. A beautiful “sotto-voce” vintage."
"Henschke Hill of Grace 2016, Eden Valley Restrained and elegant, this has cascading flavour that ripples over itself. Where the 2015 was medium bodied, fine, savoury and layered (almost pinot-esque), this moves into an opulent, rich, dense space with bacon fat, maple, blackberry, licorice, aniseed, fennel flower and cardamom overlaid onto resinous black oak, blackcurrant and sweet fruit. It's a tour de force, and it has a fierce aspect this year."
"From a core of vines planted around 1860 (plus some 100+ and 35+ yo vines) at 400m elevation. Matured 18 months in 85/15% French/ American oak, 29% new. Such effortless grace and caressing elegance, in the presence of commanding endurance that will sustain it for half a century. This is the paradox that defines the legendary fable that is Hill of Grace. 2016 embodies this: the profound depth of black fruits, bathed in the inimitable fragrance and exotic Chinese five-spice that characterises these old vines, set to tannins more finely textured yet more commanding than ever. Resist the seductive temptations of its youth and drink the 2015 first, because the true spectacle of 2016 is decades away."
"Henschke's 2016 Hill of Grace Shiraz is locked up tight behind a stubborn wall of firm tannins. Scents of pencil shavings, mocha, bay leaf, mixed berries and plums appear on the nose, while the full-bodied palate starts off broad, expansive and creamy, then draws to a chewy, drying finish. There's ample concentration, length, complexity and a definitive track record of aging, so put this version away for several years while waiting for it to emerge and show its true glory. If you absolutely must drink it now, decanting for a couple of hours helps soften the tannins and brings the fruit forward."
"Gorgeous floral lift and vibrant plum and fresh, pureed blackberry and mulberry aromas. The palate is full of rich, ripe, sculpted and slippery-smooth fruit, so young and lithe it runs away from you, trailing deep notes of spice, black olive, dried herbs and ironstone minerals in its wake. On day two, it is buoyant and muscular: the fruit starts to build, bearing waves of ground black pepper, anise, liquorice, baking spices, tamarind, cardamom and cigar smoke. Fine but distinct layers of lacy tannins and gently creamy oak support an ultra-long and harmonious finish. Powerful but perfectly proportioned; the consummate Shiraz."
"Deep garnet. A quiet start – builds slowly – black plum, preserved fig, blackberry, briar, earth, leather, cola. Classic seamless and deep concentration of fruit on the palate – quite subtle, not forward in the least – it’s dark and intriguing and harmonious. Tannins are fine and savoury, tight and long. Oak is a picture of integration. The fruit is intense, exploring added notes of aniseed, bitter chocolate and more on the palate. This is a wine that urges you to think about IT, it’s not going to deliver everything on a plate to you immediately. You are required to put something into the process, too! It remains tight-lipped, structured and firm . . . just for the present. Like the Mount Edelstone, Hill of Grace is assured of a long life."
"It is exciting to see another great vintage of this wine and yet this 2016 could not be more different than its glossy, come-hither brother. While the 2015 is juicy, buoyant, pliant and welcoming this new 2016 release is upright, introverted and composed. The overture is one of restraint and elegance with discreet spice over a deep, dark, multi-layered core. There is immense polish, as always, and the savoury finish is not more or less tannic than the 2015, but it is certainly tense and bristling with energy. I remember noting that the 2015 was a wine that ‘everyone, expert and novice alike, will love’, but I am certain that 2016 Hill of Grace is, exclusively, an aficionado’s wine. You can taste the site so clearly here and it seems that every vine is singing its 160-year-old song in perfect harmony and this is incredibly mesmerising. There is no doubt that this will be a long-lived vintage for Hill of Grace and it continues a magnificent run of releases from this blessed corner of the wine world."
"Deeply coloured, there are many layers of dark fruit with a light dusting of dried sage, meat and peppery spice. A little floral element adds a nice touch. There is then fantastic impact on the palate and density of fruit, which is still tight and firm. Waves of dark fruit are lifted by earthy spice and wrapped up in a blanket of tannins which help to draw out a long and strong finish which, combined with raw power, makes this wine close to perfection. It does not move for minutes and retains its youthful vitality so you can be sure it is a keeper for the long term."
"Pretty deep purplish crimson. Not much evolution at the rim (unlike the Hill of Roses). Initially pretty reticent on the nose. Then fumes started to swirl up from the glass as from a cauldron! I'm thinking witches here. Luscious ripe fruit within a stern framework – it really is impossible to spit out. Strong saline quality on the (very long) finish. Just unfurling in the glass but the intensity of the fruit almost masks the tannic charge. I know Stephen Henschke talks about the red and black fruit here but I get lots of mineral stuff. It is a really very unusual combination of lift/freshness with intensity of historic Shiraz. Such throat-soothing persistence! ... 24 hours later the colour seems to have mellowed. But the wine is still amazingly luscious and broad with strong mineral and saline notes. Decant this and you could enjoy it immediately."
"Deep ruby-red colour with a trace of purple. The bouquet is multi-faceted and beguiling in its mellow complexities, invoking earthy, humus, undergrowth, dried herbs and ironstone, blackberry and licorice aromas with a hint of mocha, the same flavours appearing on the palate, which is tremendously concentrated and powerful, without loss of its essential elegance. A miraculous wine of concentration and balance. A powerful vintage of this wine."
Below-average winter rainfall and a very warm and dry spring enhanced flowering and set the scene for above-average yields. Summer began with one of the hottest Decembers on record with low disease pressure. Temperatures moderated as the summer cooled in the new year. A soaking rain right on veraison in late January/early February brought relief to the ancient, dry-grown vines, and this, combined with a very mild February, provided exceptional conditions for ripening. An earlier harvest was predicted due to an early Easter. The warm weather returned at the beginning of autumn, ensuring full physiological ripeness. Harvest was briefly interrupted by rainfall in the second week of March, which provided excellent conditions for the late-ripening varieties. Warm ‘Indian Summer’ autumn temperatures allowed for efficient ripening. The 2016 vintage will be recognised for deeply coloured, plush, dark-fruited wines, which are concentrated, complex/vibrant and energetic, with beautifully layered mature tannins; overall characterised by average yields of small berries and exceptionally high quality. They are very much akin to high-quality vintages such as 1988, 1994 and 2008, all of which were picked on early Easters and have shown exceptional ageing potential in ideal cellaring conditions.
"I’ve walked this congregation of the ancients for more years than I remember. As a child I walked hand in hand with my grandfather Alf through the rows of vinous ‘Grandfathers’ that seemed so tall. Trunks too wide to embrace, full of whorls and wonder. Ghostly sentinels in the frosty winter paddock, magic green fingers that sought life in spring. Grapes burgeoned in the golden heat of summer. Harvest, the aromatic scent of fermentation; juicy sweetness filled the winery air. As a young man I walked this field of ancients with the grower, my uncle Louis, and my father Cyril. Listened to their words. Tasted grapes as they ripened. Learned the language of the vines; how they responded to the seasons; sometimes open and lush, sometimes holding tight, elegant and pure. I watched the intuitive way Cyril transformed the gift of harvest into a psalm of the season, the field; the life blood of the ancients. Once this congregation stood in Hermitage. In 1860 their offspring were nestled into the earth of the light-filled vineyard that became known as the Hill of Grace. In that same era, sadly their famed French progenitors all died out from the effects of the Phylloxera aphid. Miraculously their power and grace lives on in our Eden Valley. As Henschke winemaker for four decades, I now walk among the ancients with my wife Prue, one of Australia’s most talented and dedicated botanically trained viticulturists. Her vision means the vines, managed with biodynamic and organic principles grow within the native landscape; an ecosystem of local grasses and flowering plants. With our children, we nurture and protect the Hill of Grace for future generations. We are pleased to present this gift of our harvest from the standout 2016 vintage, a beautifully opulent expression of an ancestral congregation." - Stephen Henschke, winemaker
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.