1971 Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz


There was a time a few years ago when I drank quite a number of mature Australian wines. Sadly, these have become much harder to find, especially since I have not visited Australia for over a decade. Therefore, it was a joy to drink a 52-year-old bottle from Henschke on a recent trip to the Far East.

The 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz is not the famed “Hill of Grace” bottling in another guise, but rather, a wine that would have surely been found in modest liquor stores in the early Seventies in Adelaide, Melbourne or Sydney. In a way, that makes it more intriguing to taste. Few could have foreseen back then that the 1971 would continue to be so delicious after five decades since it was not predesigned with longevity in mind. Sporting light bricking on the rim with a blueish tinge in the center, the wine is initially reticent. The aromatics are somewhat volatile: a bit of freshly painted nail varnish and soy. That “unruly” bouquet lowers my expectations, yet the palate is sound, with plenty of extant fruit laced with cough candy and star anis. The Syrah is most expressive, adorned with a winsome finish redolent of candied orange peel and pronounced crème-de-cassis notes. I wondered whether the nose might have mustered more vigor with time in the glass. Alas, we did not have time to find out. Still, it was a pleasure to be acquainted with this Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz from Henschke. 91/Drink 2023-2030.

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