High scores from leading wine critics have greeted the release of 2015 Henschke Hill of Grace Eden Valley Shiraz this week.
Nick Stock gave the single-vineyard wine – which retails for $865 – the perfect score of 100 points for JamesSuckling.com while Winsor Dobbin, James Halliday and Huon Hooke gave it 99 points.
The Henschke family have released a video, Henschke Hill of Grace: A Vintage Graced by the Luminous Moon, to celebrate the launch of the wine. The voiceover is by Russell Crowe.
This 58th vintage (54th release) of Hill of Grace was handpicked from 17-26 March 2015, the final pick taking place a week before the harvest moon of Easter.
Harvesting close to the full moon is an optimal time, according to fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Henschke.
“As far back as ancient Greece, there are records noting the benefits of harvesting crops around the full moon,” he says.
“Prue and I researched the picking dates for Hill of Grace, going back many decades and found that most vintage dates – whether the fruit ripened early or late – occur close to the full moon after the autumn equinox (Easter).
“It’s a fascinating enigma of nature, as by the calendar, the date of Easter can vary by up to thirty-five days.
“We like to visualise the grace of the harvest moon underlying the luminosity of the 2015 Hill of Grace with its purity of aromas, depth of flavour and silky lustrous tannins – a majesty and a mystery that takes our breath away with its grandeur.”
Hill of Grace Shiraz was created by fourth-generation winemaker Cyril Henschke in 1958, after the success of his first single-vineyard Shiraz, Mount Edelstone 1952.
“The exceptional 2015 vintage provided good yields of stunningly elegant fruit, showing extraordinary flavour, purity and acid balance, with the potential for excellent ageing,” Stephen says.
“The cool, high-altitude nights of the Eden Valley allowed the Shiraz fruit to slowly ripen and mature, and retain natural acidity for longevity. The warmth of the sunlight has built astounding layers of fragrance and flavour; also the secret of the fine, velvety tannins that lie within the skins of the berries.”
The vineyard is in a shallow alluvial valley just north-west of the Henschke winery. The name comes from the Gnadenberg Lutheran Church overlooking the vineyard. ‘Gnadenberg’ translates from German to ‘Hill of Grace’.
Planted by Henschke ancestor Nicolaus Stanitzki around 1860, the oldest vines are now 160 years of age.
Hill of Grace is made from 100 percent hand-picked old-vine Shiraz.
The 2015 vintage was vinified in traditional Henschke open-top fermenters and matured in 86 percent French and 14 percent American (one-third new, two-thirds seasoned) oak hogsheads for 18 months prior to blending and bottling on-site.
Winemaker Stephen Henschke describes the resulting wine as “intensely concentrated, with plum, blackberry, anise and signature five spice flavours, while enchantingly elegant and refined in its structure”.
Stephen says that with ideal cellaring Henschke Hill of Grace 2015 can be confidentially matured for 30+ years.
Henschke, established in 1868, celebrated 150 years of winemaking in 2018.
There was no Hill of Grace made in 1960, 1974 and 2000. Just one barrel was produced in 2003, no vintage in 2011, and extremely tiny vintages for 2013 and 2014, 2019 and 2020.