Henschke Lenswood Abbotts Prayer 2008

Abbotts Prayer mirrors the story of the modern Henschke family. Stephen and Prue Henschke planted the Lenswood vineyard, where Abbotts Prayer is grown, in an old apple orchard straddling a hill in a year BC – before children. Their oldest son is now 27 years old. It means they now have 20 years of the vineyard’s Abbott’s Prayer red in bottle and in the market. According to Stephen Henschke it hasn’t been an easy ride: it’s been a journey of struggle and joy. And, as such journeys are wont to be, self-discovery. Abbotts Prayer is a merlot blended with cabernet sauvignon and, between 1994 and 2001, small amounts of cabernet franc. For most of the past twenty years merlot has been the dominant contributor. The apple orchard wasn’t discarded – it came to a sudden end in the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983. That day a host of beautiful old apple, pear and cherry trees met their end in a catastrophic half hour. They planted merlot at a time when it wasn’t prevalent in Australia; it’s been a lot of work to build up the merlot stocks. The vines are, accordingly, some of the oldest in the Adelaide Hills; the vines some of the oldest of the variety in Australia (but not the oldest). From the start the Henschkes have chased a variety of flavours; in that search they sought to plant as many different clones as possible.

This 2008 is from a warm-to-hot year but it’s an excellent wine. It has some sweet-sour characters – in a ripe context. Oak is sweet, polished and noticeable, but it has knitted beautifully with a sizeable bloom of dark-hearted fruit. It’s sweet and floral, fruity and persistent. It seems very young, but I suspect we have a champ on our hands here. Juicy, smooth, balanced and long. Tobacco-like aftertaste. I have a feeling this wine is, given time, set to soar.

Alcohol : 14.5%
Price : $?
Closure : Screwcap
Drink : 2013 - 2023
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