Henschke is James Halliday’s Winery of the Year

James Halliday has named Henschke his Winery of the Year at the 2021 Wine Companion Awards, announced this week.

Halliday comments on winecompanion.com.au that “Henschke is the foremost medium-sized winery in Australia, and its recognition as Winery of the Year is long overdue. Whether you consider the winery’s history, the number and quality of its present wines, or its future, the answer is the same: it has no equal.”

“Stephen is the fifth generation of the Henschke family, and he and wife Prue along with their three children – sixth-generation Johann, Justine and Andreas – are variously involved in the business. Stephen and Prue have taken the irreplaceable vineyard that is the jewel in the crown of a flourishing family business, polished it, and steadily built a complex and compelling suite of estate-owned and local-grower-supplied wines of consistently flawless quality.

“There are no tricks of equipment or practice in the winery, just attention to detail… Great wine made in the vineyard? Absolutely.”

Among the 8.775 wines tasted for the 2021 Halliday Wine Companion, just 16 - including the Best Sparkling Winner Arras 'E.J. Carr' Late Disgorged 2005 - were judged to be "standout bottles, each representing the truest and most exceptional examples of their respective varietal categories." 

A further 26 wines from our Australian producers are Best of the Best by Variety Runners-up, rated Gold with 95 points or above. Please see below for the full list.

Best Sparkling Winner

House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2005
99 Points
It takes Australian sparkling onto a level of texture and complexity that no other producer can even seek to achieve. Comparisons with Krug or Bollinger are valid, regardless of preferences.

Best Sparkling Runner-Up

House of Arras Rosé Vintage 2009
98 Points
How can a wine of this age be as delicate, fresh and red-fruited as this. A knockout in every respect.

Best Shiraz Runners-Up

Henschke Hill of Grace 2015
99 Points
Henschke says the '15 vintage provided stunning and elegant Eden Valley shiraz with extraordinary flavours, purity of fruit and acid balance. And indeed that's a fair description of this medium-bodied Hill of Grace. The colour is still bright, clear crimson-purple, and the beautifully balanced fruit flavours are vibrantly fresh. It would be easy to underestimate the likely longevity of this wine. One of the all-time greats.

Henschke Hill of Roses 2016
98 Points
The vines were 26yo in '16, too young for inclusion in Hill of Grace, notwithstanding its undoubted quality...There's not a single hair out of place in a perfectly framed, medium-bodied shiraz. Bred in the purple.

Dandelion Vineyards Red Queen of the Eden Valley Shiraz 2017
98 Points
The density of the colour is striking, as is the depth and power of the fruit. This is an extraordinary wine, the intensity of its black fruits awe-inspiring, oak and tannins insisting on adding their say.

Henschke Mount Edelstone 2016
97 Points
The vintage was challenging, but this shiraz shows no sign of that. It is full-bodied, very complex and very long, the tannins expertly massaged and drawn under the fruit. Blackberry, tar and bitter dark chocolate all contribute to what will be a very long-lived wine.

Shaw + Smith Balhannah Vineyard Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2016
97 Points
The wine is still in its infancy, black fruits, spice, pepper and licorice in a Catherine wheel of flavours. It's a special wine that will have a very long life as the tannins are fully tamed.

John Duval Wines Eligo Barossa Shiraz 2017
97 Points
John Duval is a master blender. This is all about the best of the vintage, fruit from various sites across the Barossa and Eden Valleys, to morph into the mighty Eligo. A powerhouse of flavour yet never loses focus. Dark plums infused with star anise, cinnamon, Dutch licorice and soy sauce. Full-bodied with velvety rich tannins. 

John Duval Wines Entity Barossa Shiraz 2018
97 Points
Entity is always a complete, fabulous wine. Nothing out of place. Cherry picking fruit from sites off old vines across the Eden and Barossa Valleys. It is so polished, there's a sheen. Flavours of black fruits, licorice and woodsy spices all in sync. The key is beautifully shaped and plush tannins. Wonderful wine.

By Farr Shiraz 2018
97 Points
A special wine. It's all tang and undergrowth, cherries and peppery spices but putting names to the individual flavours doesn't do the overall effect justice. This is a wine of fresh-faced beauty; it's a glance and a wink and a nod all rolled into one. How. It doesn't take you long into the first glass to start wondering how they did it. It tastes like a kind of magic.

Best Shiraz Viognier Runner-Up

Clonakilla Canberra District Shiraz Viognier 2018
97 Points
Fragrant to the point of perfumed aromas of spices, rose petals and red fruit blossom. The palate is, as ever, very complex, with spice berries sewn together in a necklace of tannins. The length is all one could wish for.

Best Cabernet Sauvignon Runner-Up

Henschke Cyril Henschke 2016
97 Points
Some of the vines were planted by Cyril Henschke in the ‘60s. Deep but brightly coloured, this is a no holds barred, full-bodied Eden Valley cabernet sauvignon that will live for decades, blessed by a screwcap. Blackcurrant fruit, touches of cedary oak, black olive, bay leaf and earthy tannins are all on parade.

Best Pinot Noir Runners-Up

Dawson James Pinot Noir 2016
98 Points
A Tasmanian pinot that has been supremely stylish since first tasted in Jan '18, and is now even better. The richness of the fruit of youth remains in the background; there's a spicy complexity of the mouthfilling flavours. Oak and tannins play their part on the long palate, adding to its longevity.

By Farr Farrside Geelong Pinot Noir 2018
97 Points
It takes time in the glass for assertive cedar wood oak to settle into the fruit but at all steps along the way this wine oozes both quality and class. You're in the most skilled of hands here. Woodsmoke, assorted cherries, twiggy spice notes, flavour-infused acidity and fine-grained tannin. It's a truly beautiful wine.

Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
97 Points
It is a portrait of top end Tasmanian pinot noir, intensely aromatic and achieves complexity and depth to its spice-laden berry aromas and flavours. Beautiful.

Best Grenache Runners-Up

SC Pannell Old McDonald McLaren Vale Grenache 2018
97 Points
The provenance of the Old McDonald single vineyard comprises 76yo bushvines and is lighter and more perfumed than its sibling, the Clarendon Smart. Both excellent interpretations of their sites. This one heady with red fruits, florals, dried herbs/mint and a hint of green walnuts. There's a savoury overlay, with very fine sandpaper tannins and neat acidity sashaying across the just medium-bodied palate. Detailed, complex yet ethereal.

SC Pannell Smart Clarendon Grenache 2018
97 Points
Fruit comes off 63yo bushvines on a high, cool grenache vineyard in the Vale. It is beautifully composed. Bursting with cranberries and red cherries sprinkled with nutmeg and florals. Tending medium-bodied, yet structured and detailed with grainy, beautiful tannins and raspberry-sorbet acidity to close. Beguiling now and for years to come.

Best Other Reds Runners-Up

John Duval Wines Annexus Barossa Valley Mataro 2017
97 Points
This is a glorious manifestation of the '17 vintage, its cool conditions retaining freshness of fruit at a very modest alcohol level. A sheer pleasure to drink.

John Duval Wines Annexus Barossa Valley Mataro 2018
97 Points
I love this. It's a commanding wine. It oscillates between deep, dark, spicy fruit to savoury, meaty flavours. It's long and pure, with poised yet determined tannins. I doubt mataro gets any better than this. Respect.

Best Chardonnay Runners-Up

Shaw + Smith Lenswood Vineyard Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2017
98 Points
All four Bernard clones 76, 95, 96 and 277, then the usual winemaking techniques, but the quality of this wine is anything but usual. For the record, chilled overnight, whole-bunch pressed to new and used French puncheons. This is an utterly brilliant wine, elegant and intense, the fruit flavours reflecting the glorious vintage.

Shaw + Smith M3 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2018
98 Points
A beautifully poised wine, balance and elegance inevitably part of the equation. There is a purity to the drive of the fruit that makes recitation of what are usual stages of vinification unnecessary. It's the quality of the fruit, the attention to detail and the cumulated decades of experience that make this wine so special.

Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay 2018
98 Points
The bouquet and palate send the same message of perfectly captured white stone fruits, then apple and grapefruit. An irresistible wine with spectacular length.

Giant Steps Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2019
98 Points
The bouquet is slightly funky/reduced, but it's elegance and purity that are the essence of this wine, made by a master of the art.

Best Riesling Runner-Up

Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling 2019
97 Points
There's some colour pickup that seems earlier than normal, perhaps due to the dry conditions through winter and spring, and the wine was slow out of the blocks. Then 110cm of rain fell in Jan, changing everything for the better, as the awe-inspiring Canberra District comes on song with its hymn of intense citrus/mineral take control. Very high quality.

Best Semillon Runner-Up

Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon 2013
96 Points
Generations of Barossa Valley semillon were made from grapes ripened to produced alcohol levels between 15% and 16.5%, matured in used American oak and had no support outside of a hardy few until winemaker Andrew Wigan decided to follow the Hunter Valley and pick early, cold ferment and bottle asap. It was an immediate success, and continues to this day: zesty citrus/lemongrass flavours and mouthfeel, and a 10-20 year life.

Best Fortified Runners-Up

Morris Old Premium Rare Topaque NV
99 Points
Rare is in a class of its own. Extraordinarily complex, taking on umami complexity, dark chocolate studded with salt flakes, raisins soaked in molasses and more besides. Rich and sweet, but definitely not burdened by all that because it has life, a lemony acidity and a freshness throughout.

Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Rutherglen Muscat NV
98 Points
A lot of emotion can be elicited in a glass of rare, as only a time can produce this. Extraordinarily complex with its umami flavours, brittle burnt toffee, Eccles cakes and an array of Middle Eastern baking spices. Beautifully composed, fresh and a joy to behold. And drink.