Back in March 2013 Henschke held a 50th anniversary retrospective tasting of ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz.
Megan Curren (Henschke Cellar Door Manager) has kindly sent me her tasting notes covering vintages 1990 too the current 2009 release.
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Background                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stephen Henschke is the winemaker and fifth generation custodian of the legendary Hill Of Grace Vineyard, which was planted in the 1860’s to 4 hectares of pre-phylloxera genetic Shiraz vines. Henschke Hill of Grace is often compared to Penfolds Grange as the two icons stand alongside each other as testament to Australia’s best Shiraz.
The vineyard is managed along organic/biodynamic practices, and is cropped at 2 tonnes/acre, with the grapes being separated into parcels and vinified separately to maximize blending options. Vinification takes place in open-headed down fermenters with regular pumping over. Towards dryness the wine is drained and pressed. Partial barrel fermentation in a combination of new American and French oak enables good integration oak. The wine is then allowed to mature in the same oak for a period of about 18 months before bottling and further maturation. Approximately 700-800 c/s are produced in a regular vintage.
Previous vintages have consistently rated 99 Points with both The Wine Advocate & Wine Spectator Magazines.

2009 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“Late January brought a record six days over 40C, not seen since 1908, causing vine stress, exacerbated by drought conditions and empty dams, followed by another week of hot weather culminating in a 46C day on Black Saturday on February 7. Fortunately subsequent weather was mild and dry, with perfect ripening weather from March 1st.
Deep red with crimson hues. Complex aromas of red currants, blackberry and marzipan with hints of five spice, dried herbs, black pepper, smoked charcuterie and layers of fine French oak. The palate is deep, rich and textural with a beautiful expression of berry fruits and spice, finishing with long, fine velvety tannins.”
Drink Now – 2029+  (14.5% ABV)  Rating: Excellent Vintage

2008 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“A dry and hotter than average early summer caused smaller berry and bunch size. Although temperatures climbed to over 40C around New Year and in mid-February, the weather from mid-January through February was the coolest for 30 years, allowing amazing development of fruit colour, flavour and maturity.
Intense deep crimson in colour. The nose is attractive and enticing with aromas of sweet blackberry,blueberry, Satsuma plum and rhubarb, with characteristic nuances of oriental spices, black tea leaves, anise,tar and cedar. The palate is rich and concentrated with spicy plum, crushed herbs and Dutch licorice flavours. An amazing balance of acid, fruit intensity, weight and length create a powerful palate that finishes with long, fine tannins.”
Drink Now – 2029+ (14.5% ABV)  Rating: Excellent Vintage

2007 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“The 2007 vintage shaped up to be another high quality year but with significantly reduced yields in Eden Valley. There was significant spring frost damage in Eden Valley, with yield losses of 20-25%, compounded by the drought and lack of subsoil moisture with overall losses of 50%.
Deep crimson with purple hues. Sweet, fragrant, exotic aromas of spicy red and black berry fruits, supported by plum, anise, tar and truffles and a hint of cedar. An elegantly fruited palate shows rich, complex flavours of forest fruits and cassis with underlying notes of black pepper spice, while the surprisingly restrained powdery tannins provide layers of texture for a long and luscious finish.”
Drink Now-2025+ (14.5% ABV)  Rating: Great Vintage

2006 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“The 2006 vintage shaped up as another high quality year but with only average yields in the Eden Valley. The summer was mild with southerly winds, reminiscent of 2002. Brief heat waves occurred in late January and mid-February but were early enough not to affect quality, with only minor sunburn on exposed fruit.
Deep crimson in colour with violet hues. Lifted blueberry and blackberry fruits on the nose with hints of crushed sage and ripe herbal notes. The dark fruit and sage flavours follow through on the palate, which is beautifully structured with fine-grained tannins and a long, lush finish.”
Drink Now-2030+ (14.5% ABV)  Rating: Exceptional Vintage

2005 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“Vintage 2005 was early, warm, quick, fantastic quality with good yields – and exhausting.The quality of the 2005 vintage is sure to be ranked as one of the best on record, after 2002.
Intense deep crimson with violet hues. Complex aromas of concentrated dark berry fruits and blackcurrant with nuances of oriental spices, mint and crushed herbs. The palate is plush and full of rich dark fruit and dried herb flavours, elegant layers of fine tannin and a long, complete and luscious finish.”
Drink Now-2030+ (14.5% ABV) Rating: Exceptional Vintage

2004 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“The average winter rainfall this season was a welcome relief after 2003’s fourth-worst drought in history. At the start of February searing heat caused sunburn and significant crop losses. New records were broken with South Australia experiencing its hottest day ever. Fortunately, March returned the region to glorious sunny days and cold dewy nights, with a couple of minor rain events, allowing the fruit to ripen under near perfect conditions.
Deep red with crimson/violet hues. Enticing and intense aromas of ripe blackberry and blueberry fruits, with savoury nuances of dried herbs, bay leaf and cedary French oak. The palate is rich, concentrated and powerful with wonderful depth of flavour, layers of texture and mature tannins for a long and elegant finish.”
Drink Now-2025+ (14% ABV)  Rating: Excellent Vintage

2003 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
Not Produced

2002 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“With the smaller crop level, the balance of sugar, flavour and natural acidity in the fruit were excellent. Despite the low yields, 2002 was one of our most exceptional vintages ever, helped by the warm dry Indian summer autumn period, providing sensational colours,flavours and ageing potential.
Intensely rich dark crimson in colour. Enticing, deep and concentrated blackcurrant and black plum aromas with hints of exotic spices and frankincense draw you in. Opulent power and focus on the palate with lashes of dark berries, spice and fine-grained tannins; exceptional length and cellaring potential.”
Drink Now-2025+ (14.5% ABV)  Rating: Exceptional Vintage

2001 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“Vintage began two to three weeks early but the heat had the potential to reduce flavours and produce high pHs and frighteningly low acids. With the arrival of milder autumnal weather came a natural rebalancing, providing only average yields and exceptional reds.
Very dark red with ‘glowing’ violet hues. A complex nose of sweet dark fruits, ripe Thai plums, blackberries and distinctive spice nuances. Intense, rich dark fruits, chocolate and prune flavours layered between fine grainy tannins for a beautifully balanced, suave wine.”
Drink Now-2025+ (14.5% ABV)  Rating: Excellent Vintage

2000 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
Not Produced

1999 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“The latter part of spring led into one of the hottest summers on record, with virtually no rain. The drought conditions resulted in smaller berry size producing spicy, dark intense reds.
Dark crimson with violet hues. Delicate aromas of exotic spices, mature ripe fruits, molasses, bacon and roast meat nuances. The palate is richly fruited, concentrated and layered with fine-grained chewy tannins,elegant structure and a long delicious finish.”
Drink Now-2020+ (14% ABV)  Rating: Excellent Vintage

1998 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“The indicators were of a hot dry summer, although only a serious burst of heat was experienced in mid-January and again at the end of February; otherwise, it was a mild summer, which had a significant delaying effect on the ripening process.An early onset of autumn caused a late harvest, with average yields, good to exceptional quality and intense flavour in the grapes.
Dark crimson with deep red hues. Lifted, pure, almost opulent, dark fruit and ripe plum aromas with herbal minty notes. The palate is broad and attention-grabbing with incredibly sweet blackcurrant fruits and layers of youthful tannins that showcase the structure of this elegantly balanced wine.”
Drink Now-2018+ (13.7% ABV)  Rating: Excellent Vintage

1997 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“Summer was one of the hottest on record with the hottest 14 days in February since 1910. A late, mild Indian summer ended the cool season, ensuring excellent ripening conditions and accumulation of colour and flavour.
The 40th vintage maintains Henschke’s ‘Exceptional wines from outstanding vineyards’, and shows brick red colour with ruby hues. Enticing aromas of sweet, ripe red and blue fruits, Thai plums and beef stock are complemented by Hill of Grace’s familiar nuances of exotic five spice, leather and sautéed herbs. The palate is medium- to full-bodied with a great concentration, fine chewy tannins and a long finish.”
Drink Now-2018+ (14.2% ABV)  Rating: Great Vintage

1996 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“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.
Deep garnet with brick red hues. Incredibly gorgeous and subtle aromas of blackcurrant, frankincense, Chinese five spice and green peppercorn. The palate is focused and beautifully structured with sweet fruit,spice, balanced acidity and silky tannins that provide elegance and length.”
Drink Now-2025+ (13.8% ABV)  Rating: Exceptional Vintage

1995 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“The 1995 vintage saw a culmination of two drought winters, record severe frosts, poor fruit set and a hot dry summer that made the start of vintage difficult. A warm, dry January and February combined with low crop levels brought on an early harvest.
Youthful crimson with brick red hues. Lifted and beautifully integrated aromas of potpourri, dried fruit and beef stock highlighted by hints of leather, menthol and truffle. A rich and dark fruited palate is balanced by herbaceous characteristics, and shows structure and finesse with velvety tannins.”
Drink Now-2015+ (13.8% ABV)  Rating: Excellent Vintage

1994 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“Due to a mild, dry summer there was quite a late, slow start to the 1994 vintage. March temperatures were mild to high, which had a dramatic effect, causing everything to ripen at once. The fruit quality was fantastic, with below average yields and exceptional colours, flavours and acid balance in the reds. The 1994 vintage was one of our best years on record.
Deep crimson in colour. The nose offers fragrant spicy black and blue berry fruit aromas with stewed plum, aniseed and five spice nuances. A refined and very elegant palate provides weight, concentration and structure, with layers of rich dark fruits and savoury tannins that ensure this wine still has plenty to give.”
Drink Now-2020+ (14.1% ABV) Rating: Exceptional Vintage

1993 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“Constant rain and humidity was a problem, which was compounded by a severe hailstorm in December, further reducing yields. A mild, dry summer pushed harvest back almost a month. April’s warm, dry weather conditions caused unexpected rapid ripening with good sugar and acid balance.
Ruby in colour with ochre hues. Beguiling lifted herbal aromas with overtones of dried cherries, green beans and turned earth. The palate is intense and focused, expressing sweet, juicy berry fruits, tomato stalk herbals and spice, with firm chewy tannins and a long, lean finish.”
Drink Now  (14.4% ABV)  Rating: Great Vintage

1992 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“The lead-up to the 1992 vintage saw a late wet winter, although the yearly rainfall was 50mm below average. The mild spring was ideal for flowering and encouraged excellent berry set. A long, dry, cool summer with the coolest January on record delayed harvest. Despite the predictions being just above average, actual yields were only 10% less than the big 1990 vintage.
Deep garnet in colour. The nose exudes aromas of ripe blackberries and plums, cinnamon spice and lavender with supporting notes of black pepper, beef stock and soy. The palate is plush and sweetly fruited between layers of well-structured acidity and grainy, chewy tannin, providing a long, elegant finish that is mature but still holding strong.”
Drink Now-2018+ (14.1% ABV)  Rating: Exceptional Vintage

1991 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“The 1991 vintage in Eden Valley was preceded by a short winter with below average rainfall. Budburst and flowering were early throughout mild spring conditions and a warm to hot summer. It was the earliest vintage on record with the hot weather producing high sugar levels and below average yields, yet great concentration of fruit flavours.
Dark crimson with brick red hues. Intensely scented nose of black fruits, ripe plums, licorice, anise and five spice. The palate is rich, complex and pure, with seductive flavours of ripe plum skin, menthol and spice; wonderful balance of crisp acid and firm, fine-grained tannins extending through to a complete and beautifully mellow finish.”
Drink Now+  (13.5% ABV)  Rating: Excellent Vintage

1990 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz
“The 1990 vintage was an exceptional picture-book season with good winter rains, a perfect spring and mild summer providing excellent ripening conditions. It saw the largest yields on record with possibly the best quality fruit across all varieties for two to three decades.
Dark crimson with brick red hues. Sweet, concentrated dark plum fruits with underlying hints of blackberry, leather, five spice and oak nuances. Plush, ripe plum and blackcurrant fruits combine with layers of fine velvety tannins for perfect balance and a complex yet elegant finish.”
Drink Now-2018+ (13.5% ABV)  Rating: Exceptional Vintage