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Tuesday 5 July 2016

There's no 2011 Hill of Grace; but there is a nice surprise for wine lovers

Stephen Henschke and his winemaking team tried their best, but they just could not come up with a wine worthy of the Hill of Grace label from 2011.

The vintage was a shocker and with Hill of Grace made using fruit from a single vineyard they were left with no option but to make a very difficult decision that will doubtless disappoint collectors. There simply was no fallback position.

But lovers of Hill of Grace are not left without an option following the limited release of a two-bottle museum box set with its own book that contains Hill of Grace bottles from two outstanding vintages: 2005 and 2006.

The box set will set back well-heeled buyers $1795, or they can buy limited re-releases of the 2005 (velvety, plush with savoury and leather notes) for $925 or the 2006 (elegant, raffish and Rhoney) for $870.

Both wines are at maturity and starting to show some attractive tertiary characters.

The 2005 vintage was a fine year that was “beautifully progressive” towards ripening, says viticulturist Prue Henschke, while 2006 has more finesse from a cooler and wetter year; one Prue Henschke describes as a “pretty vintage”.

Johann Henschke with the box set
Both are stunning wines; but clearly designed only for the cellars of those for whom money is no object. And Gary Walsh from Winefront points out that buyers who do not want a box and/or booklet might save themselves money by buying the 05 and 06 at auction. 

The Henschke family held a tasting and dinner at the uber-trendy Marion Wine Bar in Melbourne last week (and at other venues around the country) to unveil their special tasting pack; and some new releases.

And the beauty of Henschke for average wine lovers is that while the best wines can be stratospherically priced, there are also some excellent wines in the large range starting from just $20 a bottle.

Here are some of my highlights of the new releases: 

Tilly's Vineyard 2015: An aromatic and refreshing blend of semillon, sauvignon blanc, riesling, chardonnay and pinot gris. Unoaked, all about the fruit and lively acid. Great value for $20.

Louis 2014 Semillon: Comprised of 100% Eden Valley semillon, this is very dry, intense and concentrated with around 20% seeing oak to add texture. $33. 

Archer's Vineyard 2015 Chardonnay: From the Lenswood vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, this is a deft, fruit-driven, cool-climate style with peach and apricot notes in harmony with subtle oak. $35. 

The Alan Reserve 2012 Pinot Noir: I have been unconvinced by Henschke pinots in the past, but this Lenswood wine is right in the zone; a real showstopper. With dark cherry and fruits du bois notes, this is intense and structural. $93.

Henry's Seven 2014: A blend of shiraz, grenache, mataro and viognier, this reminds me of a fruit chutney. There is some very bright, sweet dark and plummy fruit and it offers exceptional value. $37.

Johann's Garden 2015: Grenache, mataro and shiraz from old vines in the Barossa Valley are blended in this old school red that is approachable now but will doubtless cellar well. $56.

Tappa Pass 2014 Shiraz: Cool-climate shiraz from a cool vintage, this is concentrated with wild blueberry flavours and comes together brilliantly. Definitely one for the cellar. $100.

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