2013 Glaetzer, Amon-Ra, Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
Lisa Perrotti-Brown - 29/06/2015
About this WINE
Feted winemaker Ben Glaetzer, with wine-apprenticeships at Tyrell's and Heathcote wineries, makes premium, low-yield wines "a cut above the rest" in his Barossa Valley, boutique winery.
All fruit for Glaetzer 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. 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.
Ben Glaetzer believes passionately in making wines which reflect the unique character of the Barossa valley and has been rewarded with a clutch of prestigious awards in recent years. Not the least of these was Robert Parker naming him Wine Personality of the Year in 2005. Philosophically Ben favours a policy of minimal intervention in his winemaking and seeks elegance rather than power, with very restricted extraction and skin contact.
Barossa Valley is the South Australia's wine industry's birthplace. Currently into its fifth generation, it dates back to 1839 when George Fife Angas’ South Australian Company purchased 28,000 acres at a £1 per acre and sold them onto landed gentry, mostly German Lutherans. The first vines were planted in 1843 in Bethany, and by the 1870s – with Europe ravaged by war and Phylloxera - Gladstone’s British government complemented its colonies with preferential duties.
Fortified wines, strong enough to survive the 20,000km journey, flooded the British market. Churchill followed, between the Wars, re-affirming Australia’s position as a leading supplier of ‘Empire wines’. After the Second World War, mass European immigration saw a move to lighter wines, as confirmed by Grange Hermitage’s creation during the 1950s. Stainless-steel vats and refrigeration improved the quality of the dry table wines on offer, with table wine consumption exceeding fortified for the first time in 1970.
Averaging 200 to 400 metres’ altitude, the region covers 6,500 hectares of mainly terra rossa loam over limestone, as well as some warmer, sandier sites – the Cambrian limestone being far more visible along the eastern boundary (the Barossa Ranges) with Eden Valley. Following a diagonal shape, Lyndoch at the southern end nearest Gulf St Vincent is the region’s coolest spot, benefiting from sea fogs, while Nuriootpa (further north) is warmer; hot northerlies can be offset by sea breezes. The region is also home to the country’s largest concentration of 100-year-old-vine Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre.
Barossa Valley Shiraz is one of the country’s most identifiable and famous red wine styles, produced to a high quality by the likes of Rockford, Elderton, Torbreck and Dean Hewitson. Grenache and Mourvèdre are two of the region’s hidden gems, often blended with Shiraz, yet occasionally released as single vineyard styles such as Hewitson’s ‘Old Garden’, whose vines date back to 1853. Cabernet Sauvignon is a less highly-regarded cultivar.
Wines are traditionally vinified in open concrete fermenters before being cleaned up and finished in American and French oak barrels or ‘puncheons’ of approximately 600 litres. Barossa Shiraz should be rich, spicy and suave, with hints of leather and pepper.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
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The Glaetzer family have been part of the Barossa valley and its viticultural history since 1888. The overriding passion is for the production of limited quantities of benchmark Barossa valley reds - Classic Barossa Valley reds which draw on traditional Barossa viticulture but are unmistakably new wave Barossa in style.
The fruit for all Glaetzer wines is supplied by a loyal group of third and fourth generation Barossa grape growers, fruit taken from the small sub-region of the Northern Barossa valley, called Ebenezer. The vines range in age from 30 – 120 years old.
These extraordinary wines consistently receive huge accolades worldwide - The Australian Langtons Fine Wine Guide wrote “Glaetzer is one of the emerging stars of the Barossa... philosophically and by heritage."
Stuart Rae, Fine Wine Account Manager
In Egyptian mythology, Amon-Ra is considered to be the king of all gods. The temple of Amon-Ra was believed to be the first temple to ever plant a monoculture vineyard to produce wine for the citizens of the temple. The eye on front of the label is the all-seeing eye of Horus or wedjat ("whole one") - a powerful Egyptian symbol of protection. It is represented as a figure with six parts, corresponding to what Egyptians regarded as the six senses; touch, taste, hearing, sight, smell and thought. Ben Glaetzer created Amon-Ra Shiraz to appeal to all these six senses.
A touch generous to suggest, as its name does, that it is the ‘king of all’ but it is not far off. This is undoubtedly classic Barossa Shiraz, unmistakably so, everything in abundance. Intense and pure, deep rich, creamy cassis, eucalyptus, cedar, cinnamon, vanilla and voluptuous berried red and black fruits. There is no hiding here, it is high in fruit, alcohol and tannin yet has grip and lift from balancing acidity. The finish is pure, powerful and extreme in length suggesting we have a block
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