Hill of Grace – one of the most unique single vineyard wines in the world

The Henschke’s Hill of Grace is remarkable for the age of the oldest vines (150 years) and for its place in history as one of Australia oldest single vineyard wines.

Hill of Grace has carved out a reputation as one of the most important single vineyard wines in Australia.
When we established Grasshopper Rock in 2003 I was not aware of Henschke’s single vineyard wines. We were agriculturalists rather than well educated wine enthusiasts. We knew we wanted to create a world class single vineyard wine with unique qualities which were undeniably linked to the land it was produced from. We looked more to the historical vineyards of Burgundy than Australia for inspiration.

It did not take long to become aware of the famous single vineyard Henschke wines, Mount Edelstone and Hill of Grace. Both have been produced as single vineyard wines since the 1950s and have established international reputations with wine writers and critics attending vertical tastings of each single vineyard wine going back fifty years.

Hill of Grace which includes grapes from vines planted in the 1860s has been most widely written about and certainly is the rarer and most expensive of the two single vineyard wines. Although some may prefer drinking the Mount Edelstone ahead of Hill of Grace, it is without doubt the Hill of Grace which is the pinnacle of single vineyard wines.

Hill of Grace become a place I dreamed of visiting and would enviously read articles about the latest release or a vertical tasting but never imagined I would taste the wine. I did not really even appreciate where the vineyard was as I had not been to South Australia.

Photographs of the vineyard always look up the rows of old vines to the church which appeared to me to be at the top of the hill and that was the picture I kept in my mind.

In September I needed to go to Angaston and could not believe that I would be only 15 kilometers from Henschkes. The least I could do would be go to the cellar door and try the wines that were on tasting, but never imagined I would get to the Hill of Grace let alone taste the wine. To cut a long story short, I did get to walk in the Hill of Grace vineyard and taste the Hill of Grace and others.

The area in vines at Hill of Grace is the same as at Grasshopper Rock (around 8 hectares) but our vines are like young children which we have nurtured from birth. Here at Hill of Grace they call the 150 year old vines the Grandfathers. Walking among the vines I feel the caring and nurturing by many people over many years of what are now very very old vines – vines which have outlived their carers. I am left with a feeling that the vines are more important than the people and for this alone the vineyard demands respect from a visitor. The vines have developed character with age, especially the old Grandfather Shiraz where you can feel each old vine has its own unique story which can be read in its shape – a story about the seasons it has seen and the care or hard times it has seen over the last 150+ years.
The church is not at the top of the hill as I had always pictured. It is actually on the other side of the road on the lower side of a beautiful little basin. Again is some ways not unlike Grasshopper Rock.

The wines tasted included: Croft Vineyard chardonnay 2012, Julius riesling 2012, Giles pinot noir 2012, Henry’s Seven 2012, Keyneton Euphonium 2010, Mount Edelstone shiraz 2010 and Hill of Grace shiraz 2008.

These wines consistently showed great balance and each beautifully crafted. My personal favourites were the Julius Riesling, Keyneton Euphorium, Mount Edelstone and Hill of Grace. To me there is a clear sense of attention to detail in the vineyard and the winery.

The Hill of Grace shiraz really is something special. It has complexity but subtlety, beautiful balance and texture with lovely fine length. It is wine which leaves a picture in my mind like nothing I have tasted. It is that unique picture which makes this wine so special.

To really understand what makes Hill of Grace one of the greatest single vineyard wines is to taste it. If I never get to taste another Hill of Grace, I will always remember the time I spent at this special place and that one glass.

Thanks to the team at Henschke. Hill of Grace is an inspiration to single vineyard fanatics like us.



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