The Courier-Mail

RISING FROM THE ASHES

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It is true to say that Henschke’s 2012 Giles Pinot Noir arose from the ashes.

“The Adelaide Hills vineyard for these grapes was originally part of a beautiful valley of apple orchards that were destroyed by the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983,” says Stephen Henschke, the fifth-generation winemaker, who with his wife Prue, a viticultur­ist, run what is often said to be Australia’s finest family-owned winery.

The Henschkes are from South Australia’s Eden Valley, but began purchasing land 50km away at Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills in the ’80s.

The site chosen for the pinot sits at an altitude of 550m with an average rainfall of 1100mm. There is enough sunshine to fully ripen the fruit, while the cooler temperatur­es help the berries retain their natural acidity, Henschke says.

Forever respectful of Australia’s winemaking heritage, the couple named the vineyard after Charles Giles, an early pioneer whose descendant­s had managed the property as an apple orchard since 1864.

The pinot opened up nicely during the course of our dinner. There was wave after wave of gorgeous aromatics of strawberri­es, with hints of crushed herbs and spices, followed by a rich palate of red currant and wild berry fruit flavours and silky tannins.

Henschkes do not cut corners. They are in the business for the long haul and are perfecting their art. This is a wine that can only get better. Another interestin­g new offering is the Henschke Abbotts Prayer 2010, a merlot-cabernet blend (68 per cent and 32 per cent, respective­ly) that Henschke believes has a cellaring potential of 20 years or more. This is already a thrilling wine, a powerful, attention-seeking red with multiple layers of fruit flavour.

Henschke says the name was in honour of the spirit of the god-fearing pioneers who landed here.

The marketing gurus warned him against using the name, believing it to be too holy.

He ignored their advice. And thank heavens for that.

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