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The wines of Henschke, Eden Valley, Australia

One of the celebrity names in Australian wine, Henschke are revered for their trophy wine, Hill of Grace. First made in 1958 this is probably second only to Grange in terms of fame among Australian wines. I didn’t taste that here (although I did try the 1996 blind in a line-up of top Syrah-based wines last year), and the Mount Edelstone Shiraz was another noteworthy wine missing from this tasting; instead I sampled their rather broad range of wines from Eden Valley, the Barossa and cool-climate Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills.

This is a long-established family operation, with vineyards first being planted in 1861. Standards are uniformly high, as are prices I guess, but overall I came away just a little disappointed. Perhaps this says more about my elevated expectations to do with a famous name than it does the wines.  

Availability: Lay & Wheeler, with their prices indicated. Many of the wines are also available from Waitrose.

Henschke Julius Riesling 2003 Eden Valley
Fresh, crisp and limey with a lovely focus to the fruit. There’s a bit of minerality, too. Fresh. The palate is dense, taut and citrussy. Currently quite closed but a fairly serious Riesling. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£12.45)

Henschke Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2002 Eden Valley
A bright wine with a slightly green, berryish, herbal/grassy nose. The palate has quite a herbal note to the fresh, bright fruit. Crisp; a nice food wine. Very good+ 88/100 (£9.95)

Henschke Tilly’s Vineyard Wood Matured Dry White 2002 Barossa
Lovely focused bright nose with nice crisp fruit and classy toasty oak. Savoury, woody, fresh palate has nice focus. Some oaky richness. Nice stuff. Very good+ 89/100 (£8.95)

Henschke Croft Chardonnay 2002 Lenswood
Lovely forward herbal edged fruit combines well with some appealing toasty oak on the nose. Sophisticated palate is quite oaky but it works well in combination with the bold, rich fruit. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£16.95)

Henschke Johann’s Garden Grenache/Mourvèdre/Shiraz 2002 Barossa Valley
Forward nose of ripe, sweet, open blackcurrant fruit which is very rich. The palate is plump with ripe, sweet black fruits and a tarry, minerally edge. Ripe and spicy in a forward style. Very good+ 88/100 (£16.95)

Henschke Keyneton Estate Shiraz/Cabernet/ Merlot 2000 Eden Valley
Quite a refined spicy, minerally black fruits nose with a savoury edge and some tarriness. The palate is dense and spicy with a bit of herbal character, black fruits and a woody structure. A rich style but one with some focus to it. Very good+ 89/100 (£16.95)

Henschke Abbott’s Prayer Merlot/Cabernet 2000 Lenswood
Very expressive blackcurrant fruit nose is quite forward with a spicy, tarry definition. The palate is nicely defined with a mineralic spicy structure. This is a structure, focused red for mid term ageing. Satisfyingly rich but balanced. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£26.45)

Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 Eden Valley
Complex savoury, forward nose of ripe black fruits but with a good, spicy, minerally edge. The palate is minerally and full with good concentration of tarry black fruits. Savoury finish: impressive for a South Australian Cabernet. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£37.45)

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