AUSTRALIA 2018 (3) | HENSCHKE - Eden Valley
posted on 21/09/2018

South Australia ~ Eden Valley


I continued my adventure to Eden Valley, a sub-zone in the south-eastern Barossa. Eden is much cooler than Barossa due to its higher altitudes (380-500 meters), resulting to a longer growing season and grapes with concentrated aromas and high, refreshing acidity. Stony and gravelly soils keep the yields low, while clay sub-soils offer the necessary organic matter in the vineyard. In short, the Eden Valley is an place for growing cold climate varieties such as Riesling, while the ‘warmer’ Shiraz, when grown here, gains balance, finesse, length and age-ability captured in flagship wines like single vineyard 'Hill of Grace' and 'Mount Edelstone'.

It took me twenty-five minutes driving from the Barossa to the entrance of the Henschke family stone winery at Eden Valley’s Keyneton.


Arriving at the historic winery of Henschke family




Arriving at the stone-built, ivy-covered winery built in 1868, one can feel the long history and heritage of the family and the region. The miniature tasting room (*) with the low wooden door houses loads of old photos and family portraits, as well as memorabilia from the past. Through a glass door one can see the old winery room with tanks, barrels and an old wooden basket press. The history of Henschke family is captivating and it brings to mind some of the oldest and most prestigious wine families of Europe. It all started about 200 years ago...

Johann Christian Henschke was born on Christmas Eve in 1803 in Tschicherzig, Poland. At 38 he was expelled from the country because of religious beliefs and eventually he looked for a better fortune in Australia. Twenty-one years after arriving in his new homeland, he bought land northeast of Adelaide in Keyneton, Eden Valley and planted it with vines. Today, more than one and a half centuries later, the winery and the vineyards are located exactly at the same area. In 1868 Johann produced the first vintage, with about 300 gallons of wine (11 hl). Twenty-four years later his son Paul Gotthard Henschke bought the land now known as Hill of Grace.


(*) I was one of the last visitors to experience the old tasting room. At that time, they were building a brand new degustation room, which is now ready (video)

The vines in the Southern Hemisphere are in hibernation in June



The tasting room in the background


Stone is a prominent building element in all buildings


His son Cyril Alfred Henschke, a fourth-generation winemaker, was the one to first vinify Hill of Grace in 1958, opening great routes to Australian wine. Twenty years later, in 1979, fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Henschke and his wife Prue Henschke did a lot to raise the quality and reputation of the winery, while the sixth generation, Johann, Justine and Andreas Henschke recently joined the Company. The winery belongs to ‘Australia's First Families of Wine’ alliance, along with eleven more Australian wineries that still belong to the families that founded them.

I samples eleven beautiful wines; here are my notes:

Peggy’s Hill, Eden Valley Riesling 2017 (100% Riesling) – Grapes from 4-5 different vineyards of Eden Valley. Still close with discreet aromas of lemon, mineral salt and some petrol notes. Very high acidity leaving the low alcohol (12% abv) slightly exposed. Five years of aging is recommended.

Approximate Retail Price: € 22.00



Paul Gotthard Henschke and Johanne Mathilda (Schulz) are the second generation

  Visiting the tasting room is a journey through time



Ready for tasting


Archer’s Vineyard, Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016


Eleanor's Cottage 2016 (61% Sauvignon Blanc, 39% Semillon) - Classical white Bordeaux blend, as well as blend of regions: Sauvignon Blanc from Adelaide Hills and Semillon from Eden. Creamy, slightly vegetal (a French approach to the variety), asparagus and apple in a sophisticated result overall. Medium (+) acidity and a fine mouthfeel.

Approximate Retail Price: € 16.00

Louis, Eden Valley 2015 (100% Semillon) - A part of the Semillon comes from the Hill of Grace vineyard. Very sophisticated as well: honeyed lemons, dry nuts, mineral, salt and crème pâtissière. Wonderful palate with high acidity, 12.2% alcohol and a long finish.

Approximate Retail Price: € 21.00

Archer's Vineyard, Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016 (100% Chardonnay) - Classic cool climate Chardonnay fermented in barrels with aromas of melon, mango, oak, hazelnut and vanilla notes. High acidity that balances the creamy palate and relatively high alcohol (14%). An excellent Chardonnay.

Approximate Retail Price: € 22.00


All the reds in line


Giles, Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2015 (100% Pinot Noir) - Berries, red fruits, violets, flowers. High acidity (similar to white wine), medium tannins, medium alcohol and minimal animal notes that offer complexity.

Approximate Retail Price: € 35.00

Henry's Seven, Barossa 2015 (65% Shiraz, 20% Grenache, 10% Mataro, 5% Viognier) - Very nice and typical Barossa blend with spicy red and black fruit, also a little earthy and floral. Balanced mouth, moderate (+) acidity, high tannins, marginally mature. Just excellent.

Approximate Retail Price: € 23.00


The hospitality manager with the Estate’s puppy


Johann's Garden, Barossa 2015 (70% Grenache, 25% Mataro, 5% Shiraz) - Blackberries soaked in alcohol, sour cherries and black pepper are blended with balsamic aromas, minerality and earthy notes. A blend with character from Barossa, sealed with Vinolok (glass stopper).

Approximate Retail Price: € 35.00

Keynoteon Euphonium 2013 (45% Shiraz, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc) - Coffee, roasted dry nuts, plum, dried cherries, mushrooms and dirt. Complex, with and old-World charm. High acidity and medium (+), round tannins. The wine is ready to enjoy now and approaches its peak. Grapes are sourced 56% from Barossa and 44% from Eden Valley.

Approximate Retail Price: € 38.00


The old winery has retained its old glory


However, the vibe reminded me of a Western saloon!


Marble Angel, Barossa 2013 (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) - Classic pyraziney Cabernet: green pepper, eucalyptus, black fruit, cassis. High acidity, tannins and alcohol, ideal phenolic maturation (the green elements are features of the variety) and a long ageing potential.

Approximate Retail Price: € 62.00

Tappa Pass, Barossa 2015 (100% Shiraz) – Plenty of dense black fruit, spices, peppers, oak. High acidity and tannins; quite young and dense, it needs to mature further.

Approximate Retail Price: € 73.00

Muscat of Tappa Pass, Eden Valley 2015 (100% Muscat Blanc) - A very light (10.5% abv) and drinkable sweet Muscat, with lemon, honey, petrol notes and flower blossom aromas that are more pronounced in the mouth.

Approximate Retail Price: € 22.00


After tasting the excellent Henschke wines


Vines ready for pruning


Part of the family vineyard


-To be continued-


* Originally published in Grape wine magazine (issue #11, pages 10-21)


~ Story in 5 parts: Intro (here) / Barossa Valley / Eden Valley (this)

To be published: Mornington Peninsula / Yarra Valley ~


Gregory Kontos, DipWSET

Wine writer and taster, sommelier graduate and WSET Diploma holder, with an appreciation for food, traveling, music, friends and bon vivant things in general. Founder of Aegean Wine Selections, a Company focused in Greek wine exports. He is married to Stavroula Mariamou and they have a son. 



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