2018 Henschke Single Vineyard Releases

Embargoed until 29th March 2023 ACST; The wines go on sale on 3rd May 2023

I was delighted to be invited to Henschke in late February to taste a preview of these wines. The red wines will be coming to the UK imminently. 

2018 Hill of Peace – 5th release (RRP AUD 70)

100% Semillon

The first release of Hill of Peace was back in 2012, and I tasted this inaugural vintage and it was maturing evenly, showing more amplitude than this young vintage release and more succulence, too.  The 2012 certainly gave me some pointers as to how this 2018 might evolve.  Employing old French oak barrels for eight months, there is little artefact here, and given it comes from only 13 rows of 1952 plantings, situated in the Hill of Grace Vineyard, and is only 11.5% alcohol, it is a delicate creature.  Clean, pure and Riesling-shaped, from an acidity point of view, this is not an oily or textural Semillon, and there is little traction, or bloominess found here.  While there is no doubt it will age well, this is a crisp and active style that is not as skinny as a young Hunter Valley wine, and yet it is not much heavier, just more persistent.  I rather like the overall poise here, and while it is not available in the UK, it is certainly a wine that Henschke fans should endeavour to track down on their travels.  18/20 (Drink now – 2028)

2018 Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon – 38th release (RRP AUD 175)

97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc

There was no 2017 made, so we jump from the gorgeous 2016 vintage to this no-nonsense 2018 vintage.  Commanding, sharply tannic and somewhat square on the palate, this is a mere pup, and it seemed rather put out that we woke it from its slumber in order to interrogate it and swirl it around in a glass.  Firm, with crisp tannins and upright fruit, this has yet to mellow and turn the corner, but it will flesh out given age and become a more luxurious wine than is apparent right now. But do not expect this wine to ever offer overt fruit-sweetness and opulence.  This is a dense fellow favouring muscle over finesse, and it leads me to believe that 2018 was more suited to Shiraz than Cabernet, and Cyril reluctantly appears to agree.  18.5+/20 (Drink 2030 – 2040)

Prue Henschke

2018 The Wheelwright Vineyard – 4th release (RRP AUD 150)

100% Shiraz

The Wheelwright hails from a single mini-valley behind Hill of Grace.  It sits at the top of the range, north and west-facing, and the vines are 50 years old in this vintage.  This is an expressive and somewhat flamboyant wine with exotic touches on the nose and an over-arching red-fruit theme.  There is a pliable, fondanty texture with dark chocolate details, but no excess flesh or unwanted sweetness exists.  Overall, this is a more floral, open style than a firm, black-fruited wine. Prue explained that the flavour directly results from the soil type, which is acidic sandy loam, as opposed to the red-brown earth found in the other red wines.  Great fun.  18/20 (Drink 2025 – 2032)

2018 Mount Edelstone – 66th release (RRP AUD 245)

100% Shiraz, from a 106-year-old single-vineyard

This is a genuinely outstanding Mount Edelstone, with glorious fruit and multi-layered complexity. The nose sings of the Eden Valley with a sage and black fruit cocktail of flavours, and the texture is pure velvet. This is a cracker of a wine and a classic Mount Edelstone to boot, and it is already bafflingly precocious. But don’t worry because behind the exultant volleys of pristine fruit lurks muscle and crunchy tannin that will propel this wine forward for two decades and more.  As time ticks on I become more and more enamoured by Mount Edelstone and this is another release that will handsomely reward those who manage to track down stock.  19+/20 (Drink 2026 – 2040)

2018 Hill of Roses – 15th release (RRP AUD 445)

100% Shiraz, from 29-year-old vines

2018 Roses is more serious, dryer, closed, and tense than I expected.  With a more obviously spicy palate which features an overriding savoury theme, as opposed to a more fruit-ripe message, this is a curiously engaging wine.  From a fruit point of view, the Shiraz tones are always more skewed to the red fruit spectrum versus Hill of Grace’s black fruit stance, and this is, again, true in 2018.  But in addition to the red spectrum, there are blueberry and plum hints, and coffee bean notes that bring more complexity to the fore, making this a delightful wine and one that will start to entertain all-comers early in its life.  18.5/20 (Drink 2027 – 2040)

Stephen Henschke

2018 Hill of Grace – 57th release (RRP AUD 950)

100% Shiraz, with fruit from 35 – 160-year-old vines

This is an immediately juicy, and unusually forward Hill of Grace, and then, moments later, it regains its composure, remembers its origins and finishes closed and firm.  This is a classic 2018 with a unique fruit expression, yet the incredible concentration coupled with the inbuilt density of tannins is in perfect synch.  The length is impressive, too, and the fruit character is kept up from start to finish, and while the earth, five spice and pepper notes seem to sit back a little in the glass, they are buried deep down in this wine.  Interestingly, only 20% new oak was used here; I suspect that as the earth and spice notes are so prevalent in this vintage, a decision was made not to push them even harder by adding oak, so it is fascinating juicy wine.  Despite its apparent precocity and having tasted HoG right back to the 1958 vintage, I see no reason why this 2018 won’t travel the whole nine yards, too.  19.5+/20 (drink 2026 – 2050)