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Australia’s Henry’s Drive continues to deliver

I first became aware of Henry’s Drive about a decade or so ago through their well-known blend, Pillar Box Red. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to taste their wines on numerous occasions, often with founder/owner Kim Longbottom and/or their winemaker. On a recent trip to Düsseldorf Germany to attend ProWein (the largest Wine & Spirits trade show in the world), I had the pleasure of once again tasting with Kim. We went through their current portfolio. As always, I found quite a bit to like in their wines, as well as plenty of value for my wine dollars. Wines that I have always found to be tasty and well-made have continued to evolve and improve from one vintage to the next. Here’s a look at four of my current favorites.

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Henry’s Drive 2014 “H” Chardonnay ($27.99)

Composed from 100% Chardonnay from Padthaway; aging took place in French oak over a period of 10 months. Apple aromas, which are underpinned by bits of vanilla, light up the exuberant nose. Yellow melon, pineapple and toasted nut characteristics are present throughout the palate. Minerals, white pepper and continuing yellow fruit flavors dominate the above-average finish. This is a fine example of Chardonnay that shows off plenty of fresh fruit and good complexity.

Henry’s Drive 2013 Pillar Box Red ($14.99)

Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are blended to create this wine. Each variety is vinified and aged separately. The blend is created just prior to bottling. Red cherry and spice aromas dot the nose. Taking the first sip, I was immediately struck by the mouth-feel of this wine, which is softer than prior vintages. Bits of savory herbs counter-balance oodles of red and black fruit flavors on the substantial palate. Earth, leather and toasty oak are all part of the terrific finish. This wine has been an outstanding value for years. This particular vintage is likely the best version of this wine yet. It’s simply a delicious mouthful of wine that will provide drinking pleasure for the next several years.

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Henry’s Drive 2013 Pillar Box Shiraz ($21.99)

Padthaway is the source of the fruit for this wine, which is composed entirely of Shiraz sourced from numerous vineyards. The fruit from each parcel is vinified and aged separately, and the best lots are blended prior to bottling. Blackberry and violet aromas are prevalent on the dark, almost brooding nose. Red and black plum, bits of smoke, and copious spices are present on the deep and layered palate. Toast, chocolate sauce and wisps of espresso are all present on the impressive finish.

Henry’s Drive 2014 “H” Syrah ($27.99)

This offering is composed entirely of Syrah from the Padthaway region of Australia. Aging took place in a combination of new and used French and American oak. Blueberry and wisps of candied red cherry leap from the nose here. Those characteristics continue through the palate alongside black cherry, pepper and a hint of lavender. The substantial finish shows off continued fruit, bits of fennel and plenty of spice. This is a rich, layered Syrah that has plenty of ripe fruit, but never strays over the top. The mouth-feel is simply lovely.

These wines share loads of fresh fruit flavors and firm acid. Each of them will pair well with a fairly wide array of foods. In every case, these wines present good, or better, values in their respective price categories. Pillar Box Red continues to be a steal of a deal and a contender as a by-the-case purchase as a house red. If you don’t know the Henry’s Drive wines, it’s high time to try them. If you already do, they’re still getting better and more refined, so keep drinking them!

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