Ben Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2010, Barossa, Australia

Drunk October 2013

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The winery 

The first Glaetzers settled in the Barossa Valley in 1888 after emigrating from Brandenburg, Germany. They settled in a town called Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley where they started their new life in Australia. The family were some of the earliest recorded viticulturalists in the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley.

Over a century later, Colin Glaetzer established Glaetzer Wines, a boutique family owned winery producing premium Barossa Valley wines. Today Colin’s son Ben carries on the wine making traditions at Glaetzer Wines. 

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Ben Glaetzer graduated in winemaking from Adelaide University, after working at Barossa Valley Estate during school and university holidays. Having worked in the Hunter Valley and travelling extensively throughout many of the worlds wine regions, Ben returned to the Barossa and joined the family company.

Robert M. Parker Jnr chose Ben as his Wine Personality of the Year 2005. Parker said: "When I look at the winemaker behind some of my favourite Australian wines, the name Ben Glaetzer seems to come up frequently. From a winemaking family dating back to the late 19th century, he has shown an exquisite talent for accessing fabulous vineyards and turning out world class wines from old-vine Shiraz and Grenache. His Amon-Ra Shiraz is one of the great new wines of Australia, made with power as well as elegance. This is a serious talent who has exploded on the wine scene with a brilliant array of wines".

 Ben has been made a "Baron of the Barossa" for his contribution to the cultural fabric of the Barossa Valley. Life membership of this wine fraternity is by invitation only.

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The Glaetzer mission is to focus, simply on the production of small-volume, super premium Barossa Valley wines. All fruit for their Wines is taken from the small sub-region of the northern Barossa Valley, called Ebenezer.

The ancient dry-grown vineyards in the renowned Ebenezer district are an important part of Australia’s winemaking heritage and a living link to traditional Barossa viticulture. Exceptional fruit from a loyal group of third and fourth generation Barossa grape growers is the backbone of Glaetzer wines. The viticulture used is standard single wine, with permanent arm, rod and spur.

The most exceptional fruit is sourced from 80-110 year old, non-grafted bush vines which are extremely low yielding.

The oldest vines bear only 0.5 to 1 tonne per acre. Younger vines produce 2.5 to 3 tonnes per acre.

Most of the vineyards are non-irrigated but some of the newer vines (propagated from original plantings) have supplementary drip irrigation to combat stress in drought years.

The very old vines require minimal attention. Their deep root structure means they are self-sufficient and can adapt to climatic extremes.

The climate and soils of the Barossa Valley vary markedly from north to south. The warmer Ebenezer district has low rainfall and relative humidity which results in full, intensely-coloured wines. The softness, elegance and approachability of Ebenezer fruit has become the hallmark of the Glaetzer 'house style’.

Ebenezer has a unique soil profile. The well-drained sandy clay loam over a solid limestone pan is perfect for growing Shiraz. The soil is 'mean' and encourages deep roots which helps produce hugely concentrated wines of great character.

Ferments are taken off skins early as Colin and Ben favour softness and palate structure over excessive extracted characters. The fermentation is then completed in either French or American oak, or a combination of both. The wine is racked and allowed to undergo natural malolactic fermentation. It is racked once more and matured for a further 12 to 18 months, depending on the vintage.

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 The wine

This 2010 Bishop Shiraz is a classic example of a top quality red from the Barossa. This is a deep purple out of the bottle with strong aromas of berry, cassis and spice. At 15% a lower quality wine would be overpowered by alcohol and fruit but not this Ben Glaetzer. There is a powerful fruit hit on the palate but it is beautifully balanced with the subtely of vanilla and pepper ending with a very long and pleasant finish. I love this style of wine and this is exactly what I would want in the best of the Barossa. Now to try a few more Ben Glaetzer's!