Hentley Farm | Tasting Review | September 2019

Based in Greenock in the western Barossa Valley, Hentley Farm was founded by Keith and Alison Hentschke, themselves descendants of the original Barossan settlers of the 1840s, with the first wines released in 2002.

For the makers, Hentley Farm was the result of a 20 year dream (of sorts), that started for Keith at university, with Keith studying Wine & Agriculture at the famed Roseworthy, graduating as the dux of his year. Soon after he started hunting around for the ideal property, working for Elders, Nepenthe and Orlando Wyndham until discovering the Hentley Farm property, with the help of an old 1950’s soil map, in the mid 90’s.

Hentley Farm have two vineyards under their control, including the old Hentley Farm vineyard on the banks of Greenock creek at Seppeltsfield and also the Clos Otto vineyard next door. Both of which are managed sustainably, with minimal additions of any kind, producing naturally low yields as a result.

This tasting was presented by Hentley Farm’s viticulturist, Brendon Emmanuel (a last minute replacement for winemaker Andrew Quin who unfortunately couldn’t make the trip over). It was interesting to hear a viticulturists view on the wines. Winemakers always tell us that great wine comes from great fruit and it is the viticulturists job to ensure that quality fruit. Water management and excess heat are two big issues in the Barossa, along with the usual things grape growers have to deal with.

Hentley Farm have a huge reputation with many international accolades and were awarded James Halliday’s Winery of the Year in 2015. Their cellar door and restaurant are also internationally famous with the restaurant named ‘Restaurant Of The Year’ and ‘Best Fine Dining Restaurant’ at the 2019 SA Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence. Well worth a visit.

We were treated to an impressive line-up of wines. They lived up to the high expectations – the luxuriousness equation is about right in price and quality.

Hentley Farm Black Beauty Sparkling Shiraz

Fruit from the Beauty vineyard, aged in oak for 2 years and then on less for second fermentation for a year. Disgorged in 2018. This is an opulent, decadent wine. There is no mistaking its provenance – it is very Barossa. Silky rich, full of dark chocolatey fruit, with a beautiful creamy mousse.
Wow, what a way to start a tasting!

Hentley Farm The Rogue 2016

Known as the ‘Field Blend’, but not strictly so.
This is a mix up of all sorts of varieties – Grenache, Malbec, Mataro, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Durif, Nero d’Avola and Zinfandel from different vineyards. The Grenache shows through with soft juicy red fruit flavours. There’s a touch of drying tannins as well to balance. Reasonably easy drinking but with loads of flavour and personality.

Hentley Farm Dirty Bliss GSM 2017

Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro fruit sourced from the home vineyard and others around the valley. Aged in larger, old oak, this is all about the fruit. The brooding, meaty Mataro show, along with beautiful, old dark spices and a hint of game.
Quite a solid wine that is very Moorish.

Hentley Farm Villain & Vixen Shiraz 2018

This is made from three vineyards scattered across the Barossa. From the dark colour to the palate, this is a wine with some heft. The red & black fruit flavours just fill the palate. There’s some chocolate, graphite notes. Great elegance and length.

Hentley Farm The Stray Mongrel GSZ 2017

From the home vineyard, this is a unique blend with the addition of Zinfandel instead of the usual Mataro. The winemaker, Andrew Quin likes to give his reds extended maceration (time of skins) to soften the tannins. The Zinfandel adds a spicy anise lift to the wine.

Hentley Farm Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Yep, definitely Cabernet. There’s black olive, currant, smokey, cedary flavours. There’s a bit of gum leaf, rhubarb. The palate is quite big and probably still needs time to settle down. Oak plays a big part – in a good way. It’s big, but of a ‘velvet glove’ type.

Hentley Farm Shiraz 2018

Selected from 12 different blocks within the home vineyard, all fermented and aged separately before blending. An inky dark colour and that intensity follows through onto the palate. Blackberry, liquorice, dark spiced fruits, milk chocolate. Mouthcoating tannins. A solid, seamless Barossa Shiraz delivering plenty and hitting all the right spots.

Hentley Farm The Beauty Shiraz 2016

The Beauty block is grown at the lowest point of the Hentley Farm vineyard, directly on the banks of Greenock Creek. It is around 3 degrees cooler than the other blocks in the mornings giving slightly more ‘pretty’ fruit flavours and structure – hence the name. Co-fermented with around 3% Viognier skins also adds a hint of floral/spice to the aromatics. The palate is slippery smooth with fine tannins.

Hentley Farm The Beast Shiraz 2016

So, no prizes for guessing why this is called the Beast.
Big, dark, dense, rich powerful. There’s plenty of oak apparently (60% new, aged for 22 months), but this is just absorbed into the flavour and texture of the fruit. The tannins just ripple through the palate. A real mouthful. Top shelf Barossa Shiraz that is worth the money.