Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Despite the hot, early 2013 harvest, Australia’s most famous single-vineyard wine is once again a thing of beauty. The nose croons to a medley of ripe red berries and plums followed by eucalyptus, black pepper, pencil lead on a core of damp earth and iodine. The palate slinks with a satiny texture and primary fruit. Charred wood, leather and graphite are knit together with threads of fine, silky tannins. The finish is long, tangy and a touch savory. In this historic producer’s signature style, power and elegance reside seamlessly beside one another. (Cellar Selection)
Henschke is one of Australia’s leading winemakers and grapegrowers. Henschke is recognised for its rich heritage, innovative spirit and commitment to handcrafting exceptional wines for 150 years. The Henschke family’s grapegrowing and winemaking tradition spans six generations, from outstanding sustainable vineyards in Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills. The small-medium wine business has an annual crush of 700 tonne and employs around 50 staff. Prue Henschke manages the 105 hectares of vineyard, spanning from Eden Valley to Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills wine region. Henschke is one of Australia’s leading winemakers and grapegrowers. Henschke is recognised for its rich heritage, innovative spirit and commitment to handcrafting exceptional wines for 150 years. The Henschke family’s grapegrowing and winemaking tradition spans six generations, from outstanding sustainable vineyards in Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills. The small-medium wine business has an annual crush of 700 tonne and employs around 50 staff. Prue Henschke manages the 105 hectares of vineyard, spanning from Eden Valley to Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills wine region. Stephen and Prue continue to craft their white wines with a focus on purity, while their red wines have a strong focus on terroir, using traditional winemaking techniques.
Higher in elevation and topographically more dramatic than the Barossa Valley floor, Eden Valley abuts it to its south and east. While it is a bit of an extension of Barossa, Eden Valley is topographically different than the pastoral Barossa Valley, and is composed of rocky hills and eucalyptus groves.
Recognizing Eden Valley’s potential with Riesling in the 1960s and 70s, producers started to move their Riesling production from Barossa to these better sites where schist soils on hilltops would produce more steely, tart and age-worthy examples. A most famous site, planted by Colin Gramp, called Steingarten, today produces a bright Riesling that, because of its intense citrus fruit, mineral acidity and intensity on the palate, only improves with age.
Youthful Eden Valley Rieslings express floral, grapefruit and mineral, while with time in the bottle, they become increasingly toasty and complex.
Riesling isn’t the only grape the region can grow; undeniably at lower altitudes Shiraz does very well. Mount Edelstone is a notable vineyard as well as the Hill of Grace, which boasts healthy Shiraz vines well over 100 years old. This is the only Australian region where Merlot has a made a name for itself and Chardonnay can be spectacular, particularly from the High Eden sub-region in the southern valley.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.