Henschke is the foremost single-brand winery in Australia, built on 109ha of family-owned single vineyards (and a select band of loyal growers) in the Eden and Barossa valleys and the Adelaide Hills. The varietal cornerstones are shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and riesling, and the mortar comes with 19 varieties including pinot gris and nebbiolo.
The 47 members of the six-generation family tree have a double-page spread in the lavish hardbound book Hill of Grace: 150 Years of Henschke Under Southern Skies by Fiona MacDonald. It subtly makes the point that Lutheran frugality in everyday management can be replaced by very expensive, yet tasteful, opulence when called for.
Stephen and Prue Henschke, who married in 1975, have perfectly complemented each other in temperament, intelligence, charm, wine and vine science and unremitting attention to detail. Prue’s fresh, outgoing personality is easy to read, the mercurial silent laughter of Stephen easy to miss. Their eldest son, sixth-generation Johann, married Angela Peñalba de las Heras in 2015, she from a long established family in Ribera del Duero, Spain, he with postgraduate degrees in France, Spain and Germany. Daughter Justine is marketing and public relations manager, having completed her Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) and working in London, New York and Sydney. She’s her mother’s daughter, and I cannot sing her praises more.
Given that 1952 Mount Edelstone Shiraz was the first full-blown Henschke release and Hill of Grace wine was still being sold cleanskin until 1958, the relentless additions to the portfolio year on year (currently 24) could be thought to be a reflection of clever marketing, but it’s not. It’s dedicated winemaking by a visionary family that deserves every bit of its success.
2018 Henschke Tappa Pass Vineyard Selection Barossa Shiraz
Vivid magenta rim; dark, deep centre. Medium-bodied fruit, oak, tannins fused, impossible to unwrap; meaty nuances to a range of black fruits. Powerful, seductive; easy to drink, its structure and texture demand attention. 14.5% alc, screwcap 96 points, drink to 2045, $115
2016 Henschke Hill of Grace Vineyard Eden Valley Shiraz
Parcels of Old (35yo), Centenarian (100yo) and Ancestor (160yo) vines. This is the embodiment of elegance, sweeping you through its colour (bright, not dense), bouquet (raspberry, plum and wild blackberry) and palate (a bowl of sombre fruit) held in the arms of tannins with no chance of fading in the next 30 years. 14.5% alc, screwcap 97 points, drink to 2055, $890
2018 Henschke Marble Angel Vineyard Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
From a single vineyard in Light Pass planted in the late ’70s, matured in French hogsheads (10% new). Very good colour depth/brightness. Takes no prisoners; intense blackcurrant, black olive and cabernet tannins. 14.5% alc, screwcap 96 points, drink to 2048, $75