Thursday, June 3, 2021

Hill Of Grace Vertical Tasting

 I grew up during a time when the Beatles and the Rolling-Stones split the teenagers. The good kids loved the Beatles, the bad kids loved the Rolling-Stones. There was no crossover. I feel it is a bit like that with the two icons of Australian Shiraz, Hill of Grace and Grange. Who is the good guy here? Maybe it is a bit different: Hill of Grace is single vineyard, Grange is blended. Grange is about power and fruit weight, Hill of Grace more about grace? This post is about a rare opportunity to taste four Hill of Grace wines, all more than 20 years old.

There is a view the label has never changed. Not true, as seen here

We are tasting these wines from old to young. This is often done to capture the nuances of old wine, which may get lost when you taste them last. The 91 and 99 wines are from warm vintages, the 92 and 98 from relatively cool ones. This will be interesting.

The colour is a deep brown. The primary fruit of the 1991 Henschke Hill of Grace is largely gone, but the structure is holding up. The wine is still concentrated and rich in the mouth, maybe a little broad. The wine has an elegant and earthy texture with silky tannins and still a long finish. It will still drink well for a number of years.

Score: 94/++

The 1992 Hill of Grace has a similar colour. There are intriguing herbal, spice and honey aromas. This is a slightly fresher wine with plum, earthy and leathery flavours. This wine is very special and quite long in the mouth.

Score: 96/+++

The 1998 Hill of Grace has a brighter, crimson appearance. This is quite a big wine. Blackberry fruit, licorice, and spice. Some mocca on the back palate. Good focus in this wine, lithe tannins and a very long, silky finish.

Score: 96/+++

The 1999 Hill of Grace comes from one of the hottest vintages on record - and it shows. Plum, roasted meat, and tar are the main flavours. There is sweetness in the core and overall complexity. However, this wine is a bit fat and short. The tannins are very dry and dusty.

Score: 93/+

Temperature and rain were the two main variables across the vintages. Overall, the cool vintages showed much better. What are the commonalities, the signature of Hill of Grace? Aniseed is a common flavour, and the fine silky tannins typical. The other element which showed quite strongly was the American oak still prominent in these wines. In later years, more French oak was employed, which suits this wine much more. 


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