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Saturday 6 April 2019

Mixed blessings for Hill of Grace fans

There is decidedly mixed news for lovers of Henschke Hill of Grace; regarded as Australia's finest single-vineyard wine. 

The 2014 vintage will be released Australia-wide on May 1, at a price of $845 per bottle. The quality is high (I'm wavering between 97 and 98/100), but the quantity is low, extremely low. 

So low, in fact that any Hill of Grace lovers who do not move promptly will almost certainly miss out on an allocation. 

The tiny yield of Hill of Grace 2014 is comparable to that of the previous 2013 vintage - meaning the wine will be in very short supply as all the fruit is grown on the one four-hectare vineyard. 

“We describe Hill of Grace 2014 as a vintage graced by beauty,” says Stephen Henschke. “Five years after watching the six shiraz blocks from the Hill of Grace vineyard in the Eden Valley transform from juice into wine in our open-topped fermentation tanks, we were captured by the beauty of the matured wine; with its complexity, interwoven layers and incredible length.”

The Hill of Grace vineyard was first planted in 1860. 

“We are incredibly fortunate in Australia as a relatively young winemaking country to be able to make wines from some of the oldest vines in the world," says Henschke. "Our dry-grown, gnarled vines – centenarians and ancestors on the Hill of Grace vineyard were planted by my maternal great-great grandfather Nicolaus Stanitzki."

The 2014 vintage of Hill of Grace Shiraz is the 56th release of the icon wine, first created in 1958 by Cyril Henschke. 

Viticulturist Prue Henschke uses organic and biodynamic principles in the vineyard, including biodynamic compost, straw mulching and introducing native plants into the vineyards to encourage beneficial insects for pest management.

“Nourishing the land is vital for connecting healthy soils and healthy vines, producing fruit with vivid varietal flavours and gives the vines a buffer against climatic extremes,” she says.

“Sustainability in the vineyards has always been our goal; we aspire to tread as lightly as possible on our land.”

Henschke, one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries, celebrated 150 years of winemaking in 2018.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a pre-release tasting at Matilda 159 in Melbourne this week. 

My notes on the new release: "A remarkable result from a challenging season. A perfumed wine of balance and complexity. Powerful but pretty at the same time, it has lifted spice characters alongside intense dark berries and beautifully integrated, mainly French oak. Delightful."

For more information, visit the Henschke website at

# Look out for my review of other new Henschke releases before May 1. 

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