I recently was lucky enough to revisit the Henschke cellar door again. And even though it had been a decade between visits, the small and intimate cellar door had not changed much in that time and was reassuringly welcoming and rather low key. This cellar door really provides the wine traveller a refreshing reason to drive that little bit further than Nuriootpa and the siren’s call of the Barossa Valley and visit the Eden Valley.
Here you will find perfumed whites and elegantly proportioned reds that concentrate more on delivering flavour and balance than power and dominance. If you want to taste the more prestigious wines, there are VIP tours and tastings available, just contact them before arriving.
Henschke have a portfolio with some depth so, here are some of the picks from Henschke’s current releases.
(Note: others were worth a mention but in the
time it has taken for me to get this post up, the vintages have moved on)
Henschke Tilly’s 2013 ($16.50)
This is a complex blend dominant in Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris that is quite different from the Semillon dominant 2012 vintage. It also has an extra facet with some perfumed Gewurztraminer in the mix. The result is that Tilly’s has a full flush of flavour that matches the perfumed aromatic layers of tropical fruit salad, pear and blossom all kept fresh and in line with some citrus.
Plush, sweetly ripe fruit fills the mid palate and some fresh acid drives the fruit along the length of the palate and provides shape and impeccable balance. If you see a bottle of 2012 around, grab it too as it is drinking very well too. These are remarkable wines for the price tag and will certainly find favour on a warm afternoon.
If you are the only white drinker at home, it is also available in a half bottle for $9.50.
Henschke Joseph Hill Gewurztraminer 2013 ($30)
I really like the prettiness of this wine. I think the Joseph Hill is one of the best of this variety in Australia. Coming from the Eden Valley, it has the pure floral and fruit that makes this variety so easy to love. Fragrant with Turkish delight and rose petals, citrus that deepens to grapefruit on the palate and some riverstone.
With its dry, seamless palate that is not hindered by heat from acid or alcohol which is something that is not so common in the variety in Australia. Everything has found its balance, everything has its place and the rose flavor continues through to the finish. Underlying the flesh is a taut line of acid to keep the wine fresh and elegant. Enjoy it anyway that you want – with or without food.
Henschke Archer’s Chardonnay 2013 ($30)
This is the inaugural release of this Chardonnay from Lenswood in the cool Adelaide Hills and I predict a great future ahead for it. There is a lovely balance of fruit and spice without any heaviness of texture thanks to a stint in seasoned and new (17%) oak and no MLF. Fresh nectarine and citrus fruit are joined by light cinnamon and creamy nougat. The palate takes a more tropical journey when the fruit deepens into melon complementing the lemon cream.
It is the elegance of this wine that will charm even the most reluctant Chardonnay drinker. The creamy spice adds dimension and intensity without overwhelming the fruit in any way. Medium bodied and softly fleshed, there is a lasting impression of polish to the texture. Just as enjoyable with food as without.
Henschke Abbott’s Prayer 2010 ($80)
A blend of 68% Merlot & 32% Cabernet Sauvignon that should grace your cellar at least for a quick five year visit. Styled in a similar fashion to the Merlot dominant Right Bank Bordeaux, the ripe plum and red currant fruit has soft toasted oak and nutmeg spice.
The Abbott’s Prayer is noted for being elegant of body and generous of heart. The finely grained tannins are prominent at the moment and it needs some age to soften. If you do decide to cellar this one, it will be looking as good in a decade or so.
Henschke Tappa Pass Shiraz 2010 ($84)
Access to old vines is just one of the exceptional things that the Barossa Valley offers and this Shiraz has the best of both worlds. Vibrant, peppery blueberry fruit of the Eden Valley and the rich density of blackberry fruit of Barossa Valley half-a-century old vines. This wine is brightly purple hued and has very detailed aromas with chocolate, earth and nutmeg nuances to that berry fruit.
The palate is just as detailed, and the powdery tannins have a velvety lick. The fuller body is generous and ripe. This has all the hallmarks of fine quality Shiraz that are enjoyable now or can be cellared long term.
Henschke Mt Edelstone Shiraz 2010 ($139)
Henschke has a Shiraz story to tell and the Mt Edelstone’s chapter starts with nearly-a-century old Shiraz vines from the cool climes of the Eden Valley. If you do not have the budget to be able to afford Hill of Grace, then this wine does not disappoint. While this a full bodied wine, not a hair is out of place with fresh acid maintaining an impeccable balancing act along the length of the palate.
The aromas of dark plums, pepper, dried savoury herbs, earth and cinnamon are beguiling. On the palate there is a mocha nuance that adds to the complexity. Mouthcoating tannins are fine and silky and add some weight to the ripe fruit. With cellaring, this wine will continue its story and develop some added characters even though it is a good drink now.
Henschke Hill of Roses Shiraz 2008 ($225)
Twenty odd years ago, Henschke started a succession plan for Hill of Grace. They took cuttings from the best 10 vines from the Hill of Grace vineyard and this wine is the product of said plan. It is called the Hill of Roses after Johann Gottlieb Rosenzweig, one of the early settlers of the Eden Valley.
Lushly ripe blackberry, dark plums, mocha, dried herbs are enriched with cedary oak and earthiness. Mouthfillingly full bodied, the Hill of Roses has poise and personality. At six years old, the acid and tannins are already soft and fine. The rich oak adds a caramel note to the berry finish. The continued long term future of the Hill of Grace vineyard looks to be in fine hands. This is a wine to contemplate big things over, and little things….
Henschke Hill of Grace 2009 ($595)
The final chapter in the Henschke Shiraz story and it is rather poetic but not moody or overblown in anyway considering that the 2009 vintage was both unpredictably moody and could easily have been overblown.
This is one of Australia’s finest wines, as well as being one of the most iconic. It springs from a dry grown vineyard in the Eden Valley that was planting in the mid 1800’s when Australian wine was in its infancy. These are some of the world’s oldest Shiraz vines and with this distinction comes layers of complexity. Soft black pepper lift the blackberry, brown spice, dried thyme and sage, and toast.
The palate is very supple and the soft acid dances across the palate. There is no blockiness to be found in this wine although it is densely packed with concentrated fruit that is ripe and lively. And it keeps delivering flavour long, long after the wine leaves the palate. The tannins are velvety and plush but in no way dominate. Of course, it is a wine that is made to be enjoyed with food, however, it is worth giving it some attention on its own to get to know its nuances. This wine is already living up to its legacy but will happily live in the cellar for a couple of decades.