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Monday 1 May 2023

Henschke delivers a superb new range of premium wines

Unleash the superlatives. Henschke's new premium wines are released this week. And they are stunning.

The 2018 Hill of Grace Shiraz will be launched globally on Wednesday (I gave it a rare 99 points) as part of the Henschke family's 2018 Single Vineyard Release, which will also include 2018 Hill of Roses Shiraz, 2018 Mount Edelstone Shiraz, 2018 The Wheelwright Shiraz and 2018 Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon.

These single vineyard wines are recognised globally, and I was lucky enough to sample them at a recent tasting - and to also later pair them with food.

If it was any other family, the claim that the 2018 vintage was "graced by wonder" would sound suspiciously like marketing hype.

But when Stephen Henschke makes the claim then you know he is seriously delighted by the new wines, all of which will be in short supply.

Fifth-generation winemaker Henschke says the vintage celebrates several significant milestones.

"The 2018 Hill of Grace marks 60 years since my father Cyril captured the first shimmering edition of Hill of Grace from the 1958 vintage," he says.

"In 2018, we also celebrated 150 years of Henschke family winemaking. Nature collaborated, too, delivering an exceptional season that will be considered a standout of this decade.

"The wines from 2018 have wonderful complexity, richness, depth and balance, an expressive sense of place, and fine and mature tannins. They are comparable to exceptional quality vintages such as 1982, 1990, 2002 and 2010, all from mild seasons that have shown excellent ageing potential in ideal cellaring conditions.”

Established in 1868, Henschke has vineyards in the Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills. The family business is completed by Stephen's viticulturist wife Prue, and their children Johann, Justine and Andreas - who are all carrying on the family winemaking tradition.

Innovator Cyril Henschke enjoyed success with his first Mount Edelstone Shiraz and then turned his attention to the small planting of shiraz located opposite the Gnadenberg Lutheran Church, which was farmed by his brother Louis.

From these ancient vines he produced the first Hill of Grace Shiraz, a wine that would become recognised around the world.

Centenarian and ancestor vines provide the key components in Hill of Grace, with the oldest vines now over 160 years old. These are gnarly, dry-grown and naturally low yielding, which means there can never be enough Hill of Grace to meet global demand - and why the price now sits just below $1000 a bottle.

Stephen and Prue (above) have subsequently added three single-vineyard, single-varietal wines to their range: Cyril Henschke, Hill of Roses and The Wheelwright - and the Henschke wines are made organically and biodynamically.

“We see the nourishing of our land as a way of connecting healthy soils, healthy produce and healthy people," says Prue Henschke.

"We want to tread as lightly as possible on our land; land that has been nurtured by six generations of Henschke and is our past, our present and our future.”

Here's the rundown on the new wines, which will be available through fine wine retailers, restaurants and the Henschke cellar door and website ( from Wednesday.

Henschke 2018 Hill of Grace Eden Valley Shiraz: One of the finest Hill of Graces that I have tasted. No wine is perfect so this one gets 99/100. It combines power and elegance with a kaleidoscope of flavours. Composed, thoughtful and thoroughly delicious. $950.

Henschke 2018 Hill of Roses Eden Valley Shiraz: The 15th release of a wine produced from the "younger" vines on the Hill of Grace vineyard, planted in 1989. The fruit has distinct pepper and spice characters and is long, if a little restrained in its youth. 96 points from me. $455.

Henschke Mount Edelstone 2018 Eden Valley Shiraz: First produced almost 70 years ago and arguably the longest consecutively produced, single-vineyard wine in Australia. This is deep and brooding with herb and spice notes and serious texture from quality oak treatment. Supple and savoury and a wine well worth the $245 asking price. 97 points.

Henschke 2018 The Wheelwright Eden Valley Shiraz: Just the fourth release of this wine, the "bargain" shiraz of the release. Marking the winery’s centenary in 1968, Cyril Henschke planted a small shiraz vineyard in the cooler part of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Now this vineyard produces wines of style, sophistication and approachability on release. It has length, minerality, and nervy tension. Elegant and food friendly. 96 points. $150.

Henschke Cyril Henschke 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon: The 40th anniversary release of one of Australia's finest cabernets (with a smidgen of merlot and cabernet franc); dark, complex, textural and intense but at the same time soft and smooth. The supple tannin structure makes this immediately approachable, while being destined for the long haul if required. Loved this and gave it 98 points. $175.

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