More concentrated and taut than the Peggy's Hill bottling, Henschke's 2021 Julius Riesling is almost unfruity at first whiff, with scents limited to hints of crushed stone and chalk dust. Those slowly yield to notes of mixed citrus, including grapefruit, lemon and lime. It's medium-bodied on the palate and tightly focused, built around a narrow beam of acidity that drives through the long, lively finish. It can be enjoyed now—preferably with some fresh-shucked Coffin Bay oysters—or cellared up to a decade (and probably longer).
Drink 2022 - 2031
Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate (Mar 2022)
About this WINE
Henschkes family name and reputation are now being upheld by the fifth generation, Stephen and his wife Prue. Stephen is the biochemist and winemaker and Prue is the viticulturist.
Over the past 14 years, Prue`s viticultural management has breathed new life into the vineyards, which fully capitalise on some of the most remarkable old vine material in the world.
The highly sought-after Hill of Grace is the product of vines planted in the 1860s and is Australia's greatest single vineyard Shiraz. The Mount Edelstone Shiraz has a large following, as does the Keyneton Estate. Henschke Rieslings are the finest in the Eden Valley and amongst the very best in Australia.
Samuel Smith planted vines here in 1849. Johann Henschke’s farm near present-day Keyneton, then called ‘North Rhine’dates back to 1862. However until the 1950s the region reverted back to livestock to make a living (as irrigation impractical). The 1950s saw a resurgence in the region’s fortunes, thanks to the likes of Cyril Hencshke’s promotion of Riesling. Yalumba acknowledged the region’s high quality fruit by relocating its winery to Angaston in the early 1970s; they had already planted the now famous Pewsey Vale vineyard in 1962. In 1972 they planted their Heggies vineyard with Chardonnay & then in ’84 with Viognier.
At between 380 – 550 metres, the region displays nutrient poor yellow podzolic/sandy & pink quartz soils over decomposed (gneiss) granite. Due to the rocky nature of the soils, irrigation is largely provided by dams & planting densities are higher than average. Compared to Clare Valley, Eden Valley is a marginally higher in altitude, if notably cooler zone with similar sunshine hours but slightly lower levels of continentality.
Riesling's twin peaks are its intense perfume and its piercing crisp acidity which it manages to retain even at high ripeness levels.
In Germany, Riesling constitutes around 20% of total plantings, yet it is responsible for all its greatest wines. It is planted widely on well-drained, south-facing slate-rich slopes, with the greatest wines coming from the best slopes in the best villages. It produces delicate, racy, nervy and stylish wines that cover a wide spectrum of flavours from steely and bone dry with beautifully scented fruits of apples,apricots, and sometimes peaches, through to the exotically sweet flavours of the great sweet wines.
It is also an important variety in Alsace where it produces slightly earthier, weightier and fuller wines than in Germany. The dry Rieslings can be austere and steely with hints of honey while the Vendages Tardives and Sélection de Grains Nobles are some of the greatest sweet wines in the world.
It is thanks to the New World that Riesling is enjoying a marked renaissance. In Australia the grape has developed a formidable reputation, delivering lime-sherbet fireworks amid the continental climate of Clare Valley an hour's drive north of Adelaide, while Barossa's Eden Valley is cooler still, producing restrained stony lime examples from the elevated granitic landscape; Tasmania is fast becoming their third Riesling mine, combining cool temperatures with high UV levels to deliver stunning prototypes.
New Zealand shares a similar climate, with Riesling and Pinot Gris neck to neck in their bid to be the next big thing after Sauvignon Blanc; perfectly suited is the South Island's Central Otago, with its granitic soils and continental climate, and the pebbly Brightwater area near Nelson. While Australia's Rieslings tend to be full-bodied & dry, the Kiwis are more inclined to be lighter bodied, more ethereal and sometimes off-dry; Alsace plays Mosel if you like.