2021 marks the 25th birthday of Glaetzer Wines, though the family settled in the Barossa all the way back in 1888! They are some of the earliest recorded viticulturists in the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley in South Australia.
Ben Glaetzer is the driving force of the estate, and in fact one of the most driven red-wine talents in Australia. He cut his teeth among the vines of Barossa Valley Estate and then, after graduating from Adelaide University, travelled extensively throughout many of the world’s wine regions. Barossa is his home, though, and he’s been tireless in his pursuit of its greatest old-vine expressions. He wasted no time in picking up accolades, including Qantas Young Winemaker of the Year and Robert Parker‘s Wine Personality of the Year.
An anointed Baron of the Barossa for his contribution to the cultural fabric of the region, Ben has turned his top wines – Amon-Ra Shiraz and Anaperenna Shiraz Cabernet – into two of the most eagerly anticipated red releases on the calendar.
Fruit for these, and for all Glaetzer wines, grows in the small Ebenezer sub-region in the northern Barossa Valley. These ancient dry-grown vineyards are an important part of Australia’s winemaking heritage and a living link to traditional Barossa viticulture. The most exceptional fruit is sourced from 80- to 110-year-old, non-grafted bush vines which are extremely low yielding and produce intense, characterful wines that Ben renders with exceptional poise and balance thanks to his experience and deft touch.
As a measure of Amon-Ra’s consistent greatness, this wine has not once dipped below 95 points from Wine Advocate in the past 11 vintages (in fact eight of those scores are 96 points or above). Anaperenna, the inaugural winner of The Great Australian Red back in 2006, is a brilliant wine in its own right, currently enjoying a three-year streak of 95+ points from Wine Advocate.
These 2019s continue an excellent run for Ben and this consistently first-class quartet of wines.
THE 2019 SEASON
It was a dry growing season, with very few rainfall events. This, combined with strong winds and minor frost during October, had an impact on flowering and thus lowered ultimate crop levels. This was followed by a hot and dry January and February. However, our vineyards with their deep root systems thrived in the conditions; canopies remained fresh and the small crop ripened nicely. Vintage commenced later than usual as a result of the flowering impact.
The sheer quality and balanced concentration of the fruit was astounding. The resultant 2019 wines are showing dark and vibrant colour, terrific aromatic lift and freshness with tight yet approachable young tannins. – Ben Glaetzer
VINES & VINIFICATION
Exceptional old-vine fruit grown in the famed Ebenezer sub-district at the northern tip of the Barossa Valley. The Shiraz (84% of the blend) is from vines aged 30—100 years old; the Cabernet Sauvignon (16%) is from vines aged 30—130 years old. Yields are 2.5 tonnes per hectare.
The fruit was fermented in one- and two-tonne open fermenters and hand-plunged three times daily. The wine was matured for 16 months in 100% new oak hogshead barrels (92% French and 8% American) and matured on lees to maintain fruit profile and animation. The wine is bottled unfiltered to ensure minimal intervention with the wine’s natural characteristics.
The wine is almost glowing black with deep red hues. The nose offers a heady bouquet of mulberries, blackcurrant, clove, aniseed and nutmeg. A fine white pepper nuance intermingles. Fine Cabernet tannins provide the structural framework for the flesh and fruit-driven nature of the Shiraz. A dense yet savoury palate with depth and boldness also exhibits an elegant restraint. This is a wine that will mature extremely well with long term cellaring through to 2040. – Ben Glaetzer
VINES & VINIFICATION
Exceptional old-vine Shiraz fruit was sourced from the famed Ebenezer sub-district at the northern tip of the Barossa Valley. Vine age 50—130 years old. Yield 2 tonnes per hectare.
Fermented in one- and two-tonne open fermenters, hand-plunged three times daily. Matured for 16 months in 100% new oak hogshead barrels (95% French and 5% American) and matured on lees to maintain fruit profile and animation. Bottled unfiltered to ensure minimal intervention with the wine’s natural characteristics.
Deep purple in youth, this wine will evolve to a lovely dark red hue with maturation. The nose displays blood plum showing hints of dark cherries and dried garden herbs. The palate is rich and mouthcoating yet with the balance, finesse and elegance that epitomises Amon-Ra. An earthy spice complements the brooding dark fruit flavours. This is a wine that will develop beautifully with long-term cellaring through to 2045. – Ben Glaetzer
Glaetzer Wallace takes on the traditional Barossa Valley blend of Shiraz and Grenache in a modern way. The Shiraz brings backbone, flesh and body to the wine with the Grenache adding a soft, vibrant juiciness.
In 2018 the blend is 72% Shiraz (50— to 80-year-old vines) and 28% Grenache (50- to 100-year-old vines). Exceptional old-vine fruit was sourced from the famed Ebenezer sub-district at the northern tip of the Barossa Valley. Yields were 3.5 tonnes per hectare.
Old vine Barossa Grenache has a liveliness and structure that doesn’t benefit from oak maturation. Oak contact was thus minimised for the Grenache component to preserve the purity and animation of the fruit. The Shiraz was matured for 16 months in 2- to 3-year-old oak hogshead barrels (80% French/20% American). Alcohol 14.5%; pH 3.49; TA 6.12g/L. – Ben Glaetzer
Glaetzer’s least-expensive offering is a terrific bargain. The 2018 Wallace Shiraz-Grenache is a 72-28 blend, offering hints of cola and plum on the nose, backed by brighter raspberry and strawberry notes. It’s medium to full-bodied and framed by silky, fine-grained tannins, with a long, mouthwatering finish that hints at mocha and wood spice. Drink this beauty over the next 6-7 years.91 points. Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate
Glaetzer Bishop is a true expression of Barossa Shiraz that is elegantly structured with a long finish. Exceptional fruit from old vines (35 to 120 years) was sourced from the famed Ebenezer sub-district at the northern tip of the Barossa Valley. Yields were 3 tonnes per hectare.
Fermented in 1- and 2-tonne open fermenters. Extended maceration was employed to enable good tannin development so the wine is soft and approachable early. Matured for 16 months in a mix of 40% new oak and 60% 2— to 3-year-old oak hogshead barrels (90% French/10% American). Alcohol 14.5%; pH 3.5; TA 6.38g/L.
In the glass it’s dark purple, almost impenetrable. Black fruits abound on the nose. Dark plums and blackberry notes intermingle with anise and fresh spice. The palate is bright and juicy with a wonderfully rich mid-palate that maintains balance and finishes with texture. Flavours of dried spice and dark berry fruits add freshness and dimension. – Ben Glaetzer
All Shiraz, all from the Ebenezer section of the northern Barossa, the 2018 Bishop Shiraz is a super value in the context of Barossa, and Australian Shiraz in general. Matured in only 5% new oak hogsheads, it delivers bountiful cherry and raspberry fruit, accented by hints of mocha and cola. It’s medium to full-bodied, plump and juicy, fruity and lush, but reined in by firm, savory tannins on the long, mouthwatering finish. It should drink well for up to a decade.92 points. Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate
From vines 35-120yo in Ebenezer yielding 3t/ha. Open-fermented, extended maceration, then maturation for 16 months in hogsheads (40% new, 95% French). The use of French oak has put a polish on the wine, which has a loyal following.93 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2021