Saturday 17 November 2018

Henschke 2013 Hill of Grace is proof that you’ve got to have faith

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The 2013 Henschke Hill of Grace ($825) will be released tomorrow (Monday 3 September 2018) and it is ­one of the smallest vintages in the wine’s history.

“While every vintage of Hill of Grace is a limited release, 2013 and the following vintage 2014 are among our smallest harvests,” Stephen Henschke says.

“We have chosen ‘Faith’ to describe our 55th vintage, Henschke Hill of Grace 2013. We certainly needed it as we watched and waited for desperately needed rains to carry the precious yield of our dry-grown vines through to harvest.

“This is a vintage graced not just by our faith in this brief moment in time, but by the generations who came before us in the gardens of Eden. Faith led my paternal great-great grandfather, Johann Christian Henschke, across the world in 1841 to settle here and faith sustained the Henschke generations who followed.”

“The extremely low yielding, exquisitely beautiful 2013 harvest was hand-picked in the cool mornings of autumn, and vinified using traditional open-top fermentation, before spending five years maturing in our cellars prior to release.”

The release of the 2013 Hill of Grace will mark 150 years of Henschke family winemaking in South Australia.

The Hill of Grace ancestral ‘Grandfather’ vines are approximately 158 years of age and were planted on their own roots by Stephen’s ancestor, Nicolaus Stanitzki, in the early 1860s. The pre-phylloxera Shiraz vines are believed to have originated from material brought to South Australia by the early settlers.

Viticulturist Prue Henschke marvels at the gnarled, old dry-grown vines. “They have the most incredible resilience, having survived the Federation- and Depression-era droughts,” Prue says.

Prue has nurtured the vines for almost 40 years, enriching the vineyard, protecting the vines and carrying on similar organic practices of earlier vineyard custodian, Stephen’s uncle Louis Henschke.

“My mantra is to tread as lightly on the land as possible and to live within the landscape, rather than on top of it. I have seen the benefits of mulching and composting under-vine and using permanent swards, including native grasses, between the vines to build the health of the soil and preserve soil moisture,” she says.

Hill of Grace was first created in 1958 by fourth-generation winemaker Cyril Henschke, who was driven to make pure varietal table wines that spoke of Australia from distinct vineyard sites, like the grand crus of Europe. He wanted to share the innate beauty of the fruit coming from his Eden Valley vineyards. When Cyril made the first Hill of Grace from the four-hectare site at Parrot Hill, the vines were already 100 years old.

“I can’t think of any other single-vineyard wine that had its first vintage from centenarian vines and has continued to be made for another 55 years,” says Stephen.

The release of Henschke Hill of Grace 2013 coincides with the Henschke family’s 150th anniversary celebrations and also headlines the release of two new wines to the Henschke collection – The Wheelwright 2015, a tribute to founding father Johann Christian Henschke, and the 2017 disgorgement of the family’s multi-vintage, mature disgorged sparkling Johanne Ida Selma Blanc de Noir MD.

A book, Hill of Grace: 150 Years of Henschke Under Southern Skies, written by Fiona MacDonald and published by Hardie Grant Books, will also be released tomorrow. The RRP is $59.95.

Hill of Grace 2013 is available through fine wine retailers, restaurants and the Henschke website and cellar door.

No Hill of Grace was made in 1960, 1974, 2000 and 2011.

About Hill of Grace: 150 Years of Henschke Under Southern Skies

A history of the Henschke family who escaped religious tyranny in their home land, journeying to the bottom of the world in 1841, where they carved out new lives deep in the Barossa ranges.

Many vineyards were planted by early settlers in South Australia, with the wine industry viewed as a golden opportunity. Sadly, many of these colonial vineyards were lost in time. Few attained the international success of Henschke Hill of Grace. This story goes back to when the Hill of Grace was planted, exploring six generations of the family who contributed to the legend.

In 2018 the Henschkes celebrate 150 years of winemaking. Custodians Stephen and Prue work hand in hand with their progeny, Johann, Justine and Andreas, holding traditions dear, while leading the way to nurture their land with organic and biodynamic practices.

The book features Hill of Grace tasting notes from 1958 to 2013 and stunning full-colour photographs by renowned Barossa photographer Dragan Radocaj.

Photo: Henschke website.

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