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Hentley Farm in the Barossa Valley is described by iconic wine writer and critic James Halliday as a five star winery, so it’s no wonder its ‘Old Legend’ 2021 Grenache won the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for Best Young Red Wine at the recent Melbourne Royal Wine Awards.

Keith and Alison Hentschke started Hentley Farm in 1997. For the past 25 years they’ve been perfecting their Barossa wines and it paid last month at the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards, with the winery taking out the coveted Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for Best Young Red Wine. The award was established 60 years ago in 1962. “It’s the pinnacle in wine awards, it’s like climbing Mount Everest,” Keith Hentschke said. “Back in the early 90’s there was only one major award you could possibly win and of course that was the Jimmy Watson, so for the majority of my career it’s been the award to win, it’s been in my mind forever.”

He paid tribute to his entire team in accepting the award. “It is really rewarding for our whole team. What more is there to achieve?” Mr Hentschke didn’t release a bottle of wine until 2002 and has had his right-hand man and winemaker Andrew Quin with the operation since 2008 along with Siobhan Wigan. “Starting from a bare block of land and then being recognised for the wine from the vineyard I started back in 1999 is quite amazing,” he said. 

Andrew Quin is still coming to terms with the victory. “I can’t believe we won the Jimmy Watson full stop,” he said. “Everyone knows what a great vintage 2021 was, but I think what makes it a successful wine is the lovely, full, soft tannin profile. You look at the colour, it's reasonably light, you smell it and it’s pretty and aromatic but then you’re surprised by how much tannin drive the wine has.” 

He hopes the upcoming 2022 vintage that’s set to be bottled by Christmas can live up to the award-winning expectations. “I feel a bit of pressure, but probably more that I place on myself,” Mr Quin said. “The 2021 ‘Old Legend’ obviously won the Jimmy Watson but before that it also won best Grenache at Royal Queensland and Royal Sydney so I feel the pressure to repeat it so we’ll see how we go.”

Keith Henschke said the award will help capture the attention of industry and consumers. “I suspect this feels like breaking a world record, or winning gold at the Olympics, so it might take us a while to decide where to go from here,” he said. “But one thing we are going to do is celebrate and I think over this next year, maybe more, we will be celebrating this award around the country with our amazing customers.” 

Photo: Kelsey Knight/Unsplash