She was a cruel mistress in many ways, was 2020.
The northern Barossa wasn’t spared Mother Nature’s miserliness. “The 2020 vintage offered us so much in quality, but so little in quantity,” says Ben Glaetzer. In fairness, some of the blame falls on the shoulders of 2019 – the driest season on record up in Ebenezer, where Ben’s grapes grow on ancient vines. That situation was exacerbated when frost struck in October, affecting flowering.
“Smaller bunches with smaller berries were then offered the reprieve of a cooler January and February in contrast to the previous year,” reports Ben. “The result is very low yields, but wonderful quality and character. Shiraz stands out as the quality leader for the vintage, offering extraordinary colour and flavour.”
Indeed the wines look superb. The Wallace makes a strong case for being the best ever; Bishop is a little more reticent on release but has all the coiled-up potential of a medium-term gem; and Amon-Ra has silky, glossy majesty.
2020 Glaetzer ‘Wallace’ Shiraz Grenache $24
The 2020 Glaetzer Wallace is a blend of 78% Shiraz / 22% Grenache. Exceptional old vine fruit was sourced from the famed Ebenezer sub-district at the northern tip of the Barossa Valley. The Shiraz is from Shiraz 50- to 80-year-old vines and the Grenache from 50— to 100-year-old vines. Yields are 3.5 tonnes per hectare.
Old-vine Barossa Grenache has a liveliness and structure that does not benefit from oak maturation, therefore oak contact was 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).
Vibrant dark red. The nose presents a lifted combination of red fruits with fresh spice notes of pepper and cedar. On the palate the bright fruits of damson and red cherry are complemented by a hint of classic Grenache white pepper. These notes are joined by deeper and darker Shiraz fruit to offer a wine at once refreshing and intense. – Ben Glaetzer
2020 Glaetzer ‘Bishop’ Shiraz $37
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).
Vibrant dark red with purple hues. The nose is subtle yet expressive, black cherries, dried spice and licorice. Bright and complex with a wonderful rich mid-palate that maintains balance and finishes with texture. Flavours of dark plum and blackberry fused with dark chocolate and dried spice. Generous yet restrained tannin provides exceptional palate length and persistence. – Ben Glaetzer
2020 Glaetzer ‘Amon-Ra’ Shiraz $101
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.
Always a picture of pure fruit density and latent power, the latest release of Ben Glaetzer’s Amon Ra continues that theme of Barossa concentration. Glossy blackberry, black cherry and satsuma plum fruit flow readily, that compact Ebenezer power on full display. Hints of baking spice, earth, licorice and dark chocolate come into play, along with tightly packed, gypsum-like tannins for support, impressive acid cadence and a persistent and enduring exit. Always impressive.96 points. Dave Brookes, Halliday Wine Companion