Henschke wines such as Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone have firmly established themselves at the top level of Australian winemaking, but this sixth generation family operation certainly isn't sitting back. Anthony Rose tastes their latest releases and asks, what's next for this forward-thinking winery?

Henschke Wines: New Releases Tasted

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Of Australia’s 21 most highly prized wines in the Langtons Classification of Australian wine, only the names of Henschke and Penfolds contribute more than one wine in the highest ‘Exceptional’ category.

In Henschke’s case, these are Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone Shiraz.

Both historic reds of course come from the Eden Valley vineyards, separating Henschke from the South Australian Shiraz mainstream in its unique combination of century-old vines, higher altitude and a climate that’s cooler than the broader and hotter Barossa Valley.

Yet while Henschke is synonymous with Eden Valley, the family has not kept all its eggs in one basket. For Henschke, the relatively cool Adelaide Hills to the south-west is a source of fine Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir.

It also produces dry whites made from Riesling, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and other varieties that go into the Tilly’s Vineyard blend. The Barossa Valley, to the north-west of Eden Valley, also plays a significant role in a number of its richer Shiraz and GSM blends.

The fifth generation winemaker-viticulturist couple of Stephen and Prue Henschke have been tireless in their promotion of the brand and their sustainable vineyard practices. This summer it was the turn of one of their sons, Geisenheim-trained Johann, to come to London and showcase their new releases.

During a thoughtful and engaging tasting, Johann stressed the importance of getting to grips with climate change and, with it, the search for suitable locations for their varieties.

In addition to a fabulous bonne bouche of the 2005 and 2006 Hill of Grace museum releases, to be released as a special set for around £800 in the autumn (available at Great Western Wine), an intriguing newcomer to the range was the 2013 The Rose Grower Nebbiolo from Eden Valley, named for the family that owned the property. So pale it almost looks like a rosé, this showed true Nebbiolo character. There was a charming floral fragrance, liquid cherries and marked acidity and tannin, albeit showing some of the callow youthfulness of the young vines from which it was made.

A new project and a new generation to take it forward is a highly promising prospect for lovers of the finest Australian wines.

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