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Hentley Farm 2008 vintage 'very close to perfect'
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Hentley Farm 2008 Vintage conditions were ‘very close to perfect’. Whilst acknowledging that many vineyards have had trying conditions this harvest, vigneron Kevin North and winemaker Andy Anderson are all smiles. “We could not have dialed up a better result,” Anderson said.
The warm dry conditions meant harvest was earlier this year, starting 11 February, and berry size was once again miniature. The small berries have become a common occurrence at Hentley Farm, with long dry summers and the vines residing on the shallow and rocky red soils on the hills surrounding Greenock Creek.
“These small berries are consistently giving us our super intense flavours. The big win for us this year was that we had about six weeks of very mild conditions between veraison and harvest which allowed flavours to develop at their optimal rate. We were lucky that all of our top end Shiraz blocks were fermenting away in their open fermenters before the March heat wave hit. Our last grapes to be harvested were Grenache and Zinfandel both varieties which tend to perform really well for us in warmer conditions,” North said.
Hentley Farm is very aware of the restrictions around water supply, and over the years have adjusted the vineyard to only have varieties which are well adapted to Barossa’s drier conditions; Shiraz, Grenache and, with a little more attention, Zinfandel. The only white variety grown is a tenth of a hectare of Viognier to co ferment with the Beauty Shiraz.
In addition to the focus on Barossa dry clime varietals, for several years now, Hentley Farm has been implementing their dryland farming strategy. Emphasis is put on keeping the vine canopy and earth in a natural state of balance, with minimal interference. This means minimum and timely application of natural fertilizers and water. They encourage deep root growth through water management and deep row cultivation. This vintage put their philosophy to the test, and it is clearly paying off. Even with the substantially less than average rainfall, the vines have without doubt produced exceptionally well.
“Northy & I are excited about what we’ve seen in these early days of vintage. I’ve been astounded at the early colour of the Clos Otto juice — it was exceptional. Overall the balance of natural acid to sugar has been perfect and the colours have been intense purple crimson. They’re deep and vibrant. We’re already getting lots of deep blackberry and chocolate on the nose – very early days; and the tannic structure is looking good. Watching the wines develop over the coming months will be very exciting,” Anderson said.
Hentley Farm is situated in the rolling hills on the banks of Greenock Creek Seppeltsfield, in the Western dress circle of the Barossa Valley. The soils are red clay loam soils, generally overlaying shattered limestone (Terra Rossa) with lightly rocked slopes and little top soil. Well drained and gnarly, these soils on western and eastern facing slopes benefit from being in a rain shadow, and play a large part in Hentley Farm producing concentrated, full flavoured, full-bodied wines.
Hentley Farm is best known for two wines, The Beauty and The Beast, both contributing to Hentley Farm earning a 5 Star rating in James Halliday’s 2008 Australian Wine Companion. There are 3 ranges in the Hentley Farm portfolio; Boxhead (RRP$12), Fools Bay (RRP$14–20) and Hentley Farm (RRP$28–70), plus the top of the line ‘Clos Otto’ (RRP$110).
Anderson has recently joined the Hentley Farm team, working with vigneron, Kevin North and owner, Keith Hentschke. Together their passion lies in creating high end classic Barossa Hentley Farm wines. With the highest quality fruit and using dominantly French oak, these wines have an unexpected elegance.