Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 1996
The prestigious Australian winery Henschke has remained a family-owned establishment for over 153 years and six generations. Situated in Keyneton, South Australia, within the esteemed Eden Valley wine region, Henschke proudly stands as a distinguished member of Australia's First Families of Wine. Since its inception in 1862, when Johann Christian Henschke planted a modest vineyard in Keyneton, the Henschke family has continuously crafted exceptional wines, forging a legacy of excellence with vineyards in the Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills, including acclaimed single-vineyards, Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone.
The fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Carl Henschke and his viticulturist wife Prue took over the operation of the winery in 1979 and they are recognised around the world for their exceptional quality wines, innovative spirit, focus on restoring native vegetation, organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyard. Johann Stephen Henschke, the eldest of Stephen and Prue’s three children has become the sixth generation member of the Henschke family since 1983. With the background of higher education in wine making, viticulture and oenology, Johann is now based at the family winery as winemaker and viticulturist while playing an important role of transferring his skill set and knowledge from the fifth to sixth generation. As the next generation prepares to navigate the well-documented challenges that lie ahead, Johann recognizes the indispensability of innovation and meticulous strategic planning. However, amidst these considerations, he firmly believes in upholding the time-honoured winemaking techniques that have been cherished by the Henschke family for generations. By ensuring that the legacy of Henschke is nurtured with the same prudence and care as it has always been, Johann and his peers can pass on a heritage that will endure and command the same esteemed reputation that it enjoys today.
Henschke's commitment to excellence and sustainable wine production has garnered well-deserved recognition and accolades. In 2021, the winery was honoured as the Wine Enthusiast New World Winery of the Year, a testament to their exceptional craftsmanship and dedication to pushing the boundaries of winemaking in the New World. Furthermore, Henschke was also named the Winery of the Year by the prestigious Halliday Wine Companion, solidifying their position as a leader in the industry. Additionally, Henschke's unwavering commitment to sustainability and environmentally conscious practices has been acknowledged with the prestigious Robert Parker Wine Advocate Green Emblem. This recognition highlights their remarkable efforts in reducing environmental impact while producing outstanding wines. Henschke's unwavering pursuit of excellence and dedication to sustainable practices make them a true icon in the world of wine.
Henschke’s Hill of Grace is easily Australia’s most sought after single vineyard wine, and rivals Penfolds Grange for the title of the country’s greatest ever wine. The vineyard was established at Parrot Hill in the Eden Valley (around 1860) by Nicolaus Stanitzki and has since been handed down through the generations to the Henschke family. Although first produced in 1958, it took nearly 30 years before the Hill of Grace Shiraz became truly famous, an effort recognised to be connected to the hard work and dedication of Stephen and Prue Henschke.
Over 180 years ago, Johann Christian Henschke came from Silesia to settle and build his firm in the Eden Valley region. By the time third-generation Paul Alfred Henschke took over the reins in 1914 the now famed Hill of Grace vines were more than 50 years old. The original vines, known as the Grandfather, were planted around 1860 by an ancestor, Nicolaus Stanitzki rich alluvial soil in a shallow fertile valley just north-west of the Henschke family winery. The red brown earth grading to deep salty loam has excellent moisture-holding capacity for these dry-grown vines, that sit at an altitude of 400m, with an average rainfall of 520mm Hill of Grace is a unique, delineated, historic single vineyard that lies opposite a beautiful old lutheran church, which is named after a picturesque region in Silesia known as Gnadenberg, translating to Hill of Grace: Cyril Henschke made the first single-vineyard shiraz wine from this vineyard in 1958 from handpicked grapes vinified in traditional open-top fermenters. The original Ancestors (vines over 125 years) are now approximately 160 years old and remain the heart of the Hill of Grace wine, along with small selection of Centenarians (vines over 100 years), Survivors (vines over 70 years), and Old Vines (in over 35 years), all planned on their own roots.
The 1996 vintage was preceded by a welcome average winter rainfall after two drought years. A mild spring with excellent flowering conditions and a mild, cool but windy summer allowed for above average yields. A cool, dry autumn provided an exceptionally long, slow ripening period with very good flavour development and quality. Matured in new French and American hogsheads for 21 months prior to blending and bottling.
Sits on the right hand of Grange, equally deified, and now challenging its (Grange's) price; for a vintage such as 1996 no one is likely to complain. Deep red-purple; the bouquet is exceptionally rich and ripe (for the often reserved style) with lusciously sweet blackcurrant, blackberry and mint fruit cascading through to the palate. - James Halliday, Wine Companion, Published 11 July 2021, 97 Points
The Finer Details
Style - Red Wine
Varietal - Shiraz
Country - Australia
Region - Eden Valley, South Australia
Vintage - 1996
Bottle Size - 750ml
ABV - 13.8%
Closure - Cork
Cellaring Potential - 20+ years from vintage