Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2017
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Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2017

Sale price$995.00
Eden Valley, South Australia, Australia

Style: Red Wine

Variety: Shiraz

Closure: Screwcap & Vinolok

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Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2017

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Burke Road
Camberwell VIC 3124
Australia

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Producer: Henschke

Country: Australia

Region: Eden Valley

Vintage: 2017

Critic Score: 99

Alcohol: 14.5%

Size: 750 ml

Drink by: 2060


Pitch-perfect and elegant. A very long, silken finish that resonates with style and place. My goodness it's lovely - Dave Brooks

Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz is Australia's most famous single vineyard wine, sourced from the historic Hill of Grace Vineyard. This beautiful site was first planted in 1860 with pre-phylloxera shiraz vines brought from Europe. The oldest vines provide the magical ingredients in Hill of Grace. They deliver berries of incomparable texture and complexity, which gives the wine its trademark elegance, intensity and finesse. The first vintage of Hill Of Grace was produced by Cyril Henschke in 1958, which means the vineyard was almost 100 years old when the first wine was released! 

"The bouquet is very expressive and multi-layered with raspberry and cassis, regional dried herbs - especially sage and oregano, while the palate is tremendously intense and profoundly flavoured with multi-faceted flavours and the kind of effortless concentration and seamless texture that only the greatest shirazes achieve. There is something mysterious and hard to identify about this wine which is seriously delicious. A great Australian shiraz."  Huon Hooke

"Deep crimson in colour with violet hues. Lifted, exotic aromas of star anise, sage, bay leaf and fennel frame dark and brooding blackberry, Satsuma plum, mulberry and red currant notes. The palate is rich, plush and concentrated with amazing depth and complexity from succulent plum, blackberry and blueberry revealing star anise, black pepper, charcuterie and cedar. Balanced acidity provides freshness and structure, while layers of silky tannins result in an elegant finish with exceptional length. Matured in 29% new and 71% seasoned (83% French, 17% American) oak hogsheads for 18 months prior to blending and bottling."  Henschke (Nov 2021)

Expert reviews

"Australia's finest single-vineyard site? I think so. With its core of gnarled shiraz vines planted circa 1860 and its picture-perfect location alongside the Gnadenberg church, it is a much adored and discussed vineyard which has been producing stellar wines since the first single-vineyard Hill of Grace was released in 1958. Today, those original vines are bolstered with its 'young' 100+ and 35+yo kinfolk and aged in 83/17% French/American oak hogsheads (29% new) for 18 months. Grace by name, grace by nature; it's a perfectly framed, elegant snapshot of pristine fruit, site and season. Precisely ripened berry fruits are underscored with notes of Asian five-spice, sage, jasmine, licorice, mocha, blackberry pastille, charcuterie, wild flowers and cherry clafoutis. Pitch-perfect and elegant on the palate, the tannin-acid architecture tuned and sympatico with the pristine ancestor-vine fruit and a very long, silken finish that resonates with style and place. My goodness it's lovely. Drink by 2065."  Dave Brooks, Halliday Wine Companion - 99 points

"Oh my; you don't have to do any of the work on the bouquet: it has the most immediate and complex burst of warm spices, licorice, wild flowers, purple and black fruits. But in the end, it's the intensity and length of the palate that is the measure of its greatness. Drink to: 2047."  James Halliday, The Weekend Australian - 99 points

"A rather refined Hill of Grace with roasted meat, smoked meat, and juicy plums. Some mushroom and forest-flower character, too. It's medium- to full-bodied, juicy and savory. Light white pepper at the end. Underlying finesse and elegance to this. The flavor does not go away. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. Screw cap.James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com – 99 points 

"Muscular with great vitality and sensuality, Hill of Grace 2017 combines gravitas with grace. Supple swathes of fruit – blackberry with blueberry and red cherry – come scented with china ink, tinder bush, black pepper, star anise, wattleseed, tea leaf and baking spices. Tobacco pouch, mulch and subtle game undertones strike a savoury note. Rafts of seamless, spicy tannins build and buoy layers of flavour. Terrific authority, strength, complexity and length."  Sarah Ahmed, Decanter - 99 points

"Deep ruby to brick-red colour with a tinge of purple lingering in the meniscus. The bouquet is very expressive and multi-layered with raspberry and cassis, regional dried herbs - especially sage and oregano, while the palate is tremendously intense and profoundly flavoured with multi-faceted flavours and the kind of effortless concentration and seamless texture that only the greatest shirazes achieve. There is something mysterious and hard to identify about this wine which is seriously delicious. A great Australian shiraz. Drink 2022-2047."  Huon Hooke, The Real Review – 98 points

"A glorious statement of this 160-plus year old vineyard. There is so much of the vineyard DNA in this wine but with the distinctive stamp of the long, cool 2017 vintage providing a brightness of purity that only comes in rare vintages. That old vine fruit is aged in a mix of 29% new and the balance in seasoned oak for 18 months with a mix of French and American. Exotic spices with sage and traces of rosemary. The palate has a delightful minerally purity and vitality that delivers to a long finish – no, long underplays the finish; it's longer than long. Lots of similarities with the Hill of Roses but with greater depth of fruit intensity and complexity. Wonderful stuff. Drink: 2022-2062."  Ray Jordan, Wine Pilot – 98 points

"Always one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year and this one certainly does not disappoint. Wonderful wine and a worthy addition to the long line of brilliant Hill of Grace. Deep maroon in colour with intensity and balance, freshness and vitality. Enticingly fragrant with spices, red fruits, warm earth, dry herbs and more. After a day, there were darker notes, more of the warm earth tones, tobacco leaf characters and dark chocolate. Incredible length and balance, the silkiest of tannins with good complexity already evident, balanced acidity supporting the wine right through. Everything is superbly balanced and integrated. Seamless and lingering, this will age and improve for decades. A superb wine. Drink: 2030-2060."  Ken Gargett, Wine Pilot " 98 points

"Medium deep crimson. Intense blackberry, cassis, roasted coffee, sage aromas with vanilla, roasted chestnut, panforte star anise. Amazingly complex wine with pure blackberry, blackcurrant, espresso, hint of peppery flavours, fine loose knit chalky al-dente tannins and mocha, vanilla crème brulée oak. Finishes grainy al dente firm with lovely pastille fruits. Date: March 2022. Andrew Caillard MW - 98 points

"The original circa-1860 plantings are supplemented by centenarian vines and some other old vines (at least 35 years of age), but all on their own roots from the original vineyard. Despite massive expectations and perhaps a more challenging vintage, the 2017 Hill of Grace Shiraz doesn't disappoint, delivering ample weight, richness and expansiveness on the palate, coupled with impressive structure and length. Complex scents of camphor, raspberries and mulberries appear on the nose, alongside hints of sage, black olives and licorice, while the tannic, softly dusty finish lingers, suggesting plenty of longevity - 20+ years should be no problem for this beauty."  Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate - 97+ points

"Australia's most famous single-vineyard wine delivers, once again, a unique expression of place and people. The deep well of aromas includes tomato stem, blackberry and blueberry compote, a sprinkling of cumin, sage and a sumac tang, all framed in mocha oak that is gently supportive. The palate shows plushness and power, but also restraint and poise. Tannins are ultra fine and uniquely textured. They're savory and earthy, beautifully juxtaposing the tangy acidity and never squashing the plump, silken fruit. This could be drunk now, with a decanter and plate of protein at hand, but it's structured for the long haul, and could age another 15–20 years, easily."  Christina Pickard, Wine Enthusiast – 97 points

"While complex and intricate, this also has immediate charm and drinkability, with a supple frame that firms up softly on the finish. Boasts basil, kirsch, marzipan, Kalamata olive, white truffle and notes of framboise that mingle together effortlessly, but it's the finish where the wine really gains momentum, with wave after wave of details, including bittersweet chocolate, cumin, dried ginger and chocolate covered maraschino cherry. Shiraz. Drink now. 50 cases imported."  Maryann Worobiec, Wine Spectator – 97 points 

Hill of grace

Henschke Hill of Grace Vineyard

The historic Hill of Grace Vineyard is without doubt Australia's most famous vineyard and was first planted in 1860 with pre-phylloxera shiraz vines brought from Europe. The vineyard is about 8 hectares in size and is divided into six distinct blocks of varying soils, vine ages and grape varieties. These blocks are vinified separately before a final blend is made prior to bottling. The six blocks are:

Grandfathers - 0.56ha planted in 1860 
Post Office Block 1 - 0.33ha planted in 1910 
House Block - 1.08ha planted in 1951
Church Block - 0.70ha planted in 1952
Windmill Block - 0.88ha in 1956
Post Office Block 2 - 0.57ha planted in 1967

"The Ancestor Vines of the Grandfathers Block are about 160 years old, and the Centenarian vines of the Post Office Block 1 are 112 years old", says Stephen Henschke. "Centenarian and Ancestor vines provide the magical ingredients in Hill of Grace. They deliver berries of incomparable texture and complexity, which gives Hill of Grace its trademark elegance, intensity and finesse."

To quote Ken Gargett, "The grandfather vines are some of the oldest on the planet. They predate phylloxera and are planted on their own rootstocks—yet another reason why the vineyard does not advertise its existence. The last thing anyone wants is an enthusiastic visitor accidently trekking phylloxera into the vineyard. The vines are dry-grown and, not surprisingly, low-yielding. Trellising is vertical shoot positioned.

The grandfather vines are picked separately, depending on ripeness. Organic and biodynamic practices have been used for many years. Native grasses grow between rows, and there is organic compost, while a wheat/straw mulch retains moisture in the soil, inhibits weeds, and promotes microbial life.

One aspect of the harvest that is perhaps yet to be fully explained, or perhaps fully understood, is that despite the timing of Easter varying by up to 35 days annually, the grapes usually reach perfect ripeness at the time of the full moon after the autumn equinox—namely Easter. This has been the case for decades and is extraordinarily reliable.

Of course, not even vines in the Hill of Grace vineyard will live forever. The Henschkes have been working toward the future for many years. The program began in 1986, when Prue and her team evaluated more than 13,000 Shiraz vines, starting with the Mt Edelstone vineyard and subsequently Hill of Grace. Eventually, they identified 154 vines from Mt Edelstone and 390 from Hill of Grace as the pick of the crop, so to speak. Cuttings were planted in a nursery, and after 30 years, the final selection was four vines from Hill of Grace and 17 from Mt Edelstone. These were planted in a specific vineyard in 2017 and will supply replacement vines in the future." 

The following article is reproduced from: https://younggunofwine.com/vineyard/henschke-hill-of-grace-eden-valley/

Home to Australia's most respected and expensive single vineyard wine, there is perhaps no more famous or revered vineyard in Australia than Henschke's Hill of Grace. It is also home to some of this country's oldest vines, planted by Nicolaus Stanitzki around 1860. That's the year when the Gnadenberg Lutheran Church was built, which overlooks the vineyard and gives it its name –a region in Silesia, Gnadenberg roughly translates as ‘Hill of Grace'. With ancestral farming practices and an eye to regenerative agriculture, Prue Henschke is both nurturing the past and building resilience in the vineyard and enhancing the native environment for the long-term future. 

Prue and Stephen Henschke are the custodians of one of this country's most significant vineyards, which is the source of one of our most revered wines: 'Hill of Grace' Shiraz. That vineyard is in the relative cool of the Eden Valley, with a resource of significantly old and ancient vines. Prue Henschke has helmed the viticultural team since 1987, working across their vineyard holdings, as well as planting new sites. The vineyard is set on eight gently undulating hectares of land and set at 400 meters above sea level. 

The Hill of Grace vineyard is planted to own-rooted shiraz, with the oldest vines, dubbed the 'Grandfathers', planted around 1860. There are five other blocks in the vineyard, with vines ranging from 1910 plantings up to three blocks in the '50s and the most recent in 1965. Across those blocks, Henschke notes that there are five distinct "gradations in soil type" across the 4 hectares of vines.

"The first shiraz vines were planted in deep silt next to the creek line sometime before 1860 when the Gnadenberg Church was built," says Henschke. "Another shiraz block was planted in 1910 on clay loam and the rest of the vineyard was planted in the early 1950s on more clay loams and shallower loams over red clay. One has the remnants of a scree layer at 30 cm, which gives the best fruit in wet years." 

Henschke notes that each block has a role to play depending on the season, but there is a thread running through all of them. "The whole site is covered with a nutrient rich windblown sand as the topsoil," she says. "Good drainage and moisture-holding clays are ideal for shiraz and the Hill of Grace vineyard site contributes a beautiful five-spice aroma, while significant vine age contributes to the palate complexity of the wine." 

In 1989, a new planting was established that may eventually be included in the Hill of Grace blend (it is currently bottled as 'Hill of Roses'), but irrespective of that it is a valuable resource to protect the future of the vineyard. "The material for this vineyard came from a selection program on our old shiraz, which has resulted in a nursery of 19 selections, which will also provide planting material to preserve the precious genetic heritage of the pre-phylloxera vines, as vines need to be replaced," says Henschke.

"Being a botanist, the Australian landscape means a lot to me," she continues, "and I want our vineyards to sit in amongst that native landscape. Many of our vineyards are quite old and the big red gums remain, the peppermint box and blue gums as well. We looked at our surrounding land to apply permaculture principles and came up with two risks – flooding and wind damage." 

In 2003, a 32-hectare agroforestry block of eucalypts, acacias and native pines was planted at the top of the catchment to mitigate these risks. "Shelter belts of she-oaks, and peppermint gums were planted in contours for windbreaks for a new vineyard nearby," says Henschke. "There are headlands, gaps between blocks, creek lines and areas under the trees where plenty of revegetation can occur. The surrounding land can offer unlikely opportunities. The agroforestry block we planted has a gum, eucalyptus occidentalis, which is a favourite food source for koalas and is currently being coppice harvested for the rescue koalas at Cleland Wildlife Park." 

In addition to the benefits to local environment, native plantings have also increased the health of the vineyards, as well as naturally managing light brown apple moth and vine moth issues. "I had investigated a range of native plants that would act as companion plants, and I chose wallaby grasses for permanent swards and sweet bursaria and iron grasses as beneficial insect hosts," Henschke says. "Alongside mulching with compost and straw under vine, we have the advantages of better pest control, soil protection, organic matter build-up, no cultivation and no herbicides."

The viticulture at Henschke is built on a legacy of sympathetic farming, with the organic methods employed by Louis Henschke at Hill of Grace based on the approach of his ancestors. Taking the baton for that site in 1990, Prue Henschke has layered in biodynamic practices (not certified), as well as a wealth of learnings gathered over the years. "I have always been motivated to bring about improvement with ideas that come from across the world," she says. "Permanent swards and steep hillside viticulture came from studies in Germany, mulching came from South Africa, soft pruning from Italy, clonal diversity from France and Germany, native grass swards from my botanical training… There's nothing better than sharing ideas, as someone will always have some improvement to make, and there's great satisfaction in creating something new." 

Old vines are typically well-adapted to their location, but Henschke maintains that their investment in soil health has increased both their durability and the quality of the fruit. "The inputs to the vineyards are all about building soil health by adding compost and straw under vine, which acts as a buffer against the extremes of the summer," Henschke says. "This means the fruit has great quality and the resultant wines sit in the super-premium market category." 

That focus on the soil also involves spreading compost under vine to build up organic carbon and improve microbial activity and diversity, which has seen the organic matter increase from 1 to 3 percent, though Henschke's goal is higher. "My target is 5 percent," she says, "but already we have better water retention and reduced heat stress during summer. The compost is a great source of balanced nutrition for the vines so our yeast assimilable nitrogen in the musts is quite high – a sign of unstressed vines." 

The commitment also extends to larger environmental issues, with Henschke working on reducing their diesel use, noting that the Sustainable Wine Australia benchmarking results indicate their fossil fuel use is still too high. "We will be monitoring our tractor hours to see if there is any reduction we can make with the present management," she says, "but my wish is to replace our tractors, pumps and motors with electrically powered machinery from a green energy source." 

Through a combination of practices, Henschke has been improving fruit quality year on year, better expressing the venerable site. "Being a dry-grown vineyard, the under-vine mulching has made the biggest difference to the quality of the fruit," she says. "The permanent swards keep the beautiful sandy topsoil in place, giving us well-balanced vines and a cooler atmosphere during the ripening period of summer. The depth of colour and tannin maturity has improved in the wetter blocks by the adoption of vertical shoot-positioned canopies, and each year, we see that distinct five-spice, particularly star anise, character in the wine."

Stephen & Prue

Stephen Henschke

Winemaker Stephen Henschke, fifth-generation family member and youngest son of Cyril Henschke, showed great interest in science and winemaking at an early age. With a wonderful family heritage of more than 140 years of grape growing and winemaking spanning five generations, this came as no surprise. He is proud that the Henschke name and reputation is inexorably linked with red wines in general and Hill of Grace in particular, but with winemaking in his lifeblood, he approaches all wine styles with the same depth of passion and commitment to quality.

Stephen has retained the traditional approach to red winemaking used by his forebears. They handled the wines gently, used minimal racking, low sulphur, and gentle fining and filtration. They took a puristic, holistic approach that had been passed down from generation to generation so his winemaking techniques are almost intuitive.  He keeps intervention to a minimum, favouring gentle extraction of his reds so as to retain freshness and subtlety, and applies Old World techniques to his New World white grapes for elegance and texture. At the ‘50 Years of Hill of Grace' celebration in 2008 when Stephen tasted every vintage – some for the first time – he was struck by how closely he was emulating his father's winemaking of the late 1950s and the 60s with his minimal intervention techniques.

Stephen is also mindful of his European roots and is a proud supporter of the historical language, food, religion and wine culture of his Silesian forebears still alive in pockets in the Barossa.

Stephen's support and contribution to the Barossa was acknowledged in 1984 when he was inducted into the Barons of Barossa wine fraternity, of which his father Cyril was a founding member.

Prue Henschke

Viticulturist, botanist and environmentalist Prue Henschke  manages their 105 hectares of vineyards in the Eden Valley and Adelaide Hills. With today's advanced viticultural practices the greatest focus at Henschke is given to the quality of fruit in the vineyard. The increase in quality of both the red and white wines, which has helped take this iconic wine brand to the next level, is largely attributed to the increase in fruit quality.

Although Prue didn't set out to work in the wine business, she has become a key figure in the evolution of Australian viticulture and wine. She has a commitment to restoring balance to the natural environment, minimising harmful impacts and to regenerating the Henschke vineyard ecosystems. This has seen her win numerous local and international awards.

Prue became part of the Henschke world when she married Stephen, a fifth-generation Henschke. And for over 30 years, she has been a true pioneer. Her influence in the vineyards has been a balancing act of respecting tradition and protecting history while making bold decisions to innovate and improve. She restructured the vineyards, introduced new trellis types and transformed soil management using composts and mulches, which has led to adoption of organic and biodynamic practices.

How has Prue managed to blaze new trails among precious, historic vineyards. It all comes down to science. Science is the link between the vines and the quality of the wines that come from it. And it's how Prue's world collided with the Henschke dynasty. Her early interest in science led her to study botany and zoology at Adelaide University in the early 1970s. There she met Stephen, a fellow science student. After graduating, the pair headed to Germany for two years, where Prue became involved in viticulture and plant physiology. She worked at the Geisenheim Institute Vineyards and volunteered on a project in the Botanic Institute at Geisenheim – an experience that sparked a lifelong passion and set her on the path to becoming a leading viticulturist.

After returning to Australia and studying Wine Science alongside Stephen, Prue gained more experience in viticultural research, before becoming a viticultural consultant. In 1980 she started working with Stephen, who had taken over as winemaker at Henschke. They bought an apple orchard in the Adelaide Hills, near where the very first Henschke vineyard had been planted in 1862, and converted it to a vineyard, creating a ‘living research station' where they experimented and tested theories on cool-climate viticulture. This revolutionary research became vital in growing and improving cool-climate wine production in Australia.

In 1987, Prue took on her current role at Henschke. She not only manages over 100 hectares of vineyards but is custodian of precious old vines, some of which have been in the earth since the first days of the family estate.

Prue represents the pinnacle of viticulture in Australia. Her influence has reached cool-climate vineyards across the country, and in 2016 she was named Viticulturist of the Year at the Australian Women in Wine Awards. She is a highly respected voice in the Australian wine community and a strong campaigner for environmental issues. Prue is passionate about protecting the natural environment while growing grapes good enough to create Australia's best wine. And Henschke wines have never been better.

Reference material taken from: https://www.australianwine.com/en-AU/our-makers/prue-henschke

About the winery

Henschke Winery

Henschke is the best medium-sized red wine producer in Australia and is recognised as one of the world's great wine labels. It is home to Australia's most famous vineyard, the majestic Hill of Grace, which produces Australia's greatest single vineyard wine. Outstanding Shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and Rieslings are produced by the fifth and sixth generations of winemakers, with a focus on single-site expressions that tell the story of the land and the people that made them.

The Henschke family has been making wine since Johann Christian Henschke planted a small vineyard on his farming property at Keyneton in 1862. He was one of many Silesians who had fled their homeland in search of religious freedom. Johann Christian built a small two-storey cellar into the side of the hill and the first vintages of riesling and shiraz were released in 1868.

Each generation has built upon the foundations of Henschke. In more recent times, fourth-generation Cyril Henschke pioneered varietal and single-vineyard wines at a time when blended wines and fortifieds were in vogue. His greatest legacy was the creation of Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone in the 1950s, single-vineyard shiraz wines from Eden Valley that have captured the red wine world's imagination.

Today, it is fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Henschke and his viticulturist wife Prue at the helm, passionately upholding the family name and reputation. This highly regarded team has won a multitude of awards that recognise the complementary nature of their roles and Henschke has gone from strength to strength over the past three decades under their guidance.

"Prue and I are the current 'keepers of the flame'. Just as earlier generations have done, we want to manage the vineyards and winery so they can be passed on to the next generation in better condition than we inherited them. The last 50 years have been an incredible journey for the Australian wine industry. Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone are arguably the two oldest single vineyard wines produced in this country that tell the wine story of Australia. Our vision would not be complete without the expectation that future generations will uphold and perpetuate our belief that such ancient and unique single-vineyard sites can produce exceptional wines that are prized for their beauty and rarity."  

In recent years Stephen and Prue have welcomed next-generation family members into the business. Their son, Johann, has carried on the family winemaking tradition in his capacity as winemaker and viticulturist since 2013, as the fifth and sixth-generations transition through the period of the transfer of knowledge, skills, and traditions.

With many of the challenges for the next generation already well-documented, Johann expects that innovation and careful strategic planning will be crucial tools for him and his peers to utilise. Above all, continuing on the traditional winemaking techniques which the Henschke family have used for generations, and ensuring that Henschke continues to be nurtured in the same prudent way that it has always been, will allow it to be passed on to successive generations and to be held in the same high regard as it is today.

 Henschke Vineyard Map

 Henschke Vineyard Map

Wine region map of South Australia

South Australia

South Australian is responsible for more than half the production of all Australian wine. It is home to more than 900 wineries across 18 wine regions. The regions are Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Plains, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Currency Creek, Eden Valley, Kangaroo Island, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Mount Benson, Mount Gambier, Padthaway, Riverland, Robe, Southern Fleurieu, Southern Flinders Ranges and Wrattonbully.

Many of the well-known names in the South Australian wine industry established their first vineyards in the late 1830s and early 1840s. The first vines in McLaren Vale were planted at Reynella in 1839 and Penfold's established Magill Estate on the outskirts of Adelaide in 1844.

South Australia has a vast diversity in geography and climate which allows the State to be able to produce a range of grape varieties - from cool climate Riesling in the Clare and Eden Vallies to the big, full bodied Shiraz wines of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Two of Australia's best-known wines, Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace, are produced here. There is much to discover in South Australia for the wine lover.