A Taste of
The Vinorium

Issue: 80 / Sunday 18 August, 2019

 

John's Blend; One of the very first Australian wines I purchased.

One of the very first Australian wines I purchased (some 28 years back) was John’s Blend which I have not seen in the UK for decades. Hand crafted since 1974 by John Glaetzer, one of the dozen greatest winemakers of Australia. John’s Blend continues the tradition that John established with Wolf Blass in 1974 -great red wines, full of soft, succulent fruit, matured in the finest oak. Few other winemakers have experienced his continuing success and awards resulting in winning an unrivalled four of the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophies for Australia’s top red wine 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1999 as well as winning eleven Montgomery Trophies for the finest red wines at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show, to name just a few of the awards.

The secret of John’s Blend and Margarete’s Shiraz is John Glaetzer’s constant pursuit of excellence in every aspect of production. Small batches of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the rich alluvial soils of Langhorne Creek and Shiraz from Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale are crushed, fermented, pressed and blended into oak hogsheads for maturation. A select, super premium label with limited production, John’s Blend is one of Australia’s greatest.

This has been one hell of a battle to twist Margarete Glaetzer’s arm, but I am so thrilled to finally reintroduce two, magnificent wines to the UK. Quantities are, as one would expect, small with less than one-hundred bottles of each of wine available for immediate delivery. Personally, I have stocks dating back to the late 1980s which are drinking gloriously, and I will certainly be taking advantage of the new arrivals. Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient stock to present these two beauties at our inaugural portfolio tasting (28 September) however, we do have three bottles of the 2006 Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon to pour, which John kindly donated from his personal cellar. My advice is to put them in the cellar for five years and forget about them. If, however, my advice is unheeded and temptation gets the better of you, decant for 6-8 hours and serve using Zalto’s Bordeaux glassware…

I hope you get as much pleasure from John’s wines as I do. Cherish them as they are truly original

Cheers,

Stu

 
 

A short question & answer sitting with John Glaetzer
(He’s a man of few words!)

The first vintage of John’s Blend was in 1974. Has the winemaking changed much since that first vintage?

No major changes since 1974. Last week we tried the 1979 and 1984 vintages of John’s Blend Cabernet Sauvignon and both were magnificent!!

Can you tell us about Langhorne Creek? What is it about the region that makes the fruit there so special?

Langhorne Creek fruit was used in the original Wolf Blass reds from vintage 1966 until this day. The area is recognised as very consistent with classic rich eucalypt / chocolate characters.

The Glaetzer name is practically part of the very fabric of Australian wine with Ben being one of Barossa’s great names and another of our exclusive producers, Nick of Glaetzer-Dixon producing some of Tasmania’s finest wines. Why is it that wine runs so deep through the Glaetzer family's veins?

I have an identical twin brother – Colin, the founder of Glaetzer Wines in 1996. He has three sons, Sam who was my assistant at Wolf Blass Wines and is now chief winemaker at Constellation Wines, USA. Ben and Nick you know their history. Myself I have two wonderful daughters (not winemakers) but wine lovers.  Our history dates back to early Barossa Valley (grandparents) and with our parents born in the famous Clare Valley but really no one was involved or interested in wine making until I won a scholarship at Roseworthy College and Colin followed.

Do you all get together for family occasions? If so, whose wine is served at the table?

Many years ago the local ABC News channel produced a short programme of the Glaetzer winemaking family. At the time Sam was my assistant winemaker. During the close of the programme the commentator asked Sam “who makes the best wine – your father or uncle”. Sam’s clever response – “It depends whom I am drinking with at the time!!”

Do you source grapes from the same vineyards each vintage or does it vary from year to year? Can you tell us anything about the vineyards the fruit is selected from?

Grape sourcing originally from Bill Potts “Earlyday Vineyard”. The last few decades from Bill Potts, Pasquin vineyards (80 acres joint venture Bill Potts and myself) and Teangi vineyard (Ben Potts – son of Bill). Generally 50% from Pasquin vineyards (25 years of age) and 50% Bill and Ben Potts – some of which was planted in the mid 1960’s.

It took 20 years for you to add to the range. What prompted the decision to start producing Margarete’s Shiraz? Other than the varieties, can you tell us a little about how the wines differ in style and complement each other as a pair?

As the winemaker for Wolf Blass Wines for many years the volume I produced for John’s Blend was restricted. However my wife, Margarete was continually harassed with lack of supply for many overseas customers.

Both our Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are rich and full bodied.

John’s blend is one of Australia’s most iconic wines produced by one of Australia’s most iconic winemakers and has remained consistent to its style since the very beginning. How do you feel John’s Blend compares to many of Australia’s modern wines?

I am certainly not biased, however I feel some of the new modern wine styles may have lost their way. Our John’s Blend reds are certainly traditional; classic, rich, full bodied with balanced oak flavours in harmony and most important eminently drinkable.

Did you begin with a clear idea of the wine you wanted to create or was there some experimentation to begin with?

I was brought up with the famous Wolf Blass, his winemaking style was revolutionary in Australia at the time and for me no experimentation was required.

It would be hard to believe that any lover of great Australian wine wouldn’t have heard of John’s Blend or even the Glaetzer name but if there was, what would you tell them about your wines that would make them know how special they are? 

1. The volumes produced are extremely limited.

2. My record of awards as winemaker at Wolf Blass Wines (excess of 3,000 medals), including trophies, gold and silver. Together with the famous Langhorne Creek region certainly shows how special John’s Blend Cabernet Sauvignon and Margarete’s Shiraz are.

Many people feel that blending is simply bringing together different grape varieties but Australia has become famous for multi vineyard or even multi regional blends. With single vineyard wine becoming somewhat of a modern-day niche, can you tell us how important the blending aspect is to your wines? Is it art or science?

One of the great things that Wolf Blass taught me from day one. From Wolf – “John if you produce a blend from two or more components that blend must be superior to each and all of the parts”. Of course before a blend was put together – many, many trial blends would be conducted prior to any blending. Re “single vineyard wines”, they are already a blend of two or more bunches, two or more vines, etc. All of our John’s Blend wines are normally blended “in our minds” in the vineyard. The complex flavours at this early stage generally will follow through to the final blend, so yes – blending is an art – from grape grower Bill Potts to winemaking to bottling.

What is life like now? Are you both still involved or have you finally found some time to relax? 

Life now – after retiring from Fosters (the owners of Wolf Blass Wines) in 2004, I really haven’t had time to even scratch myself! I am fully committed to winemaking – John’s Blend, Gipsie Jack, consulting to many Companies and travelling, promoting my own wine and others from the famous Langhorne Creek vineyards. I have not enough time to retire.

 

Our Wine of the Week

John's Blend Margarete's Shiraz 2014

97+ Points - Stuart McCloskey "The ’14 Margarete’s Shiraz burst from the glass with warm earth and mint. With more aeration the aromas move towards a lovely savouriness of smoked charcuterie, well-hung game, charcoal and liquorice. The nose is full of drama whereas, and quite by surprise, the palate is reserved which is really pleasing. The individual components completed primary & secondary fermentation in new, French oak hogsheads. The wine matures for a further twenty-six months prior to bottling (Aug 2016). The tight grains of the French oak come through a treat and add a lovely textural element and framework to the fruit. The wine is masterfully controlled and full of sappy red & black fruits – cassis and redcurrant coming to the fore. Again, with more aeration, the wine moves towards a savoury characteristic. There is a level of concentration to be admired however, it’s the wines sense of completeness and harmony which is beautiful. The acidity is mouth-watering and the finish is truly endless. Such is the complexity, I could spend an entire evening with the same bottle and write ten, separate tasting notes. Its potential is exciting and I look forward to sampling a bottle in 5-10 years. Today I award 97+ but know there’s much more to come. Drink from now through to 2035. Decanted for 5 hours and served with Zalto’s Bordeaux glassware.

£31.95 per bottle

John's Blend Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) "It’s kind of anachronistic, I guess, but there’s a feel of solidity, and quality to this wine. It’s a gently maturing classic Australian dry red, with red and black fruit, dark mint chocolate and maybe liquorice, with spicy freshly lathed wood as seasoning. Medium to full bodied, almost succulent small dark berry fruit, toasty wood, a saline beefy character, minty perfume, firm but ripe fine grained tannin, and a gently dry and grippy finish of fine length. It’s old fashioned, yes, but kind of feels like falling back into your favourite old leather lounge. It’s a yes from me."

Winemaker's notes "Colour - Deep red, some mature hues. Nose - Intense cinnamon/chocolate/mint with refined French oak. Palate - Rich and soft with classic Langhorne Creek chocolate/mint intensity. Excellent "long" palate balanced by the French oak complexity."

£31.95 per bottle

 
 

From two school friends, to a collaborative wine label (Massena), to their own, world-class wines…

 

For the first time, we exclusively launch the amazing wines from Jaysen Collins and Dan’s (Standish) much anticipated 2017 collection

*All wines have arrived in the UK and will be available to ship during
the course of next week (22 / 23 August)

In their youth, Standish wines are brooding, devastatingly powerful and incredibly seductive with a true cult-following. Dan established his eponymous winery in 1999 whilst still working as winemaker at Torbreck Vintners. His endeavour initially began around an ancient parcel of Shiraz owned and farmed by his father... All batches of fruit are fermented and matured individually, then follows a strict selection in the winery that can see as much as 80% of the original blend discarded and sold off in bulk. 

Those who purchased the 2016’s will enjoy a distinct difference with the ‘17’s. Dan believes his 2017 wines "carry an elegance akin to a Northern Rhône offering...". We asked Dan to provide a brief, snapshot of the vintage.  

The 2017 year saw a rarely lush growing season for our old vines, with decent winter-spring rainfall and a long, sustained ripening period. We’re seeing the vibrancy to match in these wines. These bright, luscious Shiraz’s each reveal refined, multi-layers of graceful tannin; fleshy and distinguished. While unmistakably Barossan, this vintage carries an elegance akin to a Northern Rhône offering - an atypical shift resulting from a more modest variation of our renowned ‘blow-dry’ summer heat.

Barrel de-classification took a leading role for these creations, bottling less than one third of production, retaining only the crème de la crème for the final cuvees. The role that soil, site and aspect play is distinctly evident in each of these single site wines as they show their most unique tones to date

JC (left) with Dan (right) at Massena Winery

In our opinion Jaysen Collins produces some exceptional wine. In fact, and as we voiced last week, we believe each wine is undervalued and could comfortably command a much higher price. Mike Bennie (The Wine Front) nailed it with the following quote, “Some great wines emerging from this label, reminiscent of Standish in some respects, power but elegance, shaped by tannins, and the like, but wholly its own thing too”.

Dan and Jaysen styles are entirely individual as is their natural preference to their favoured varietals. Dan is one of Australia’s most talented Shiraz winemakers whereas Jaysen prefers Grenache.  Last week we released a fabulous interview with JC (one of our favourites as the detail is fabulous). We asked JC about his love of Grenache “My love of Grenache has been there from my start in the wine industry and continues to this day, pretty obvious if you look at the range of wines! Regarding styles, I’m very low intervention but it is amazing how a few choices I get to make change things, and from my experience Grenache is very expressive of this. The Bluebird is the bright, fruity, happy Grenache, Ferine is Carbonic in basis so a funky, lifted, savoury creature. I made the Rock:It to see how the Grenache and friends model works by fermenting them all together from the start, and the Angaston Grenache is 150 year old bush vines on a great site, so I let the vineyard and provenance do the work here”.

That said, in December 2018 we opened a bottle of JC’s 2017 Greenock Shiraz for a private tasting. Hands down, the wine of the evening, knocking wines at double the cost out of the park. The vineyard runs down a small hill facing east, with lean soils, cooler afternoons, tiny yields and small berries. JC prefers Shiraz that is big on fruit intensity but is more supple and svelte on the palate, powerful yet velvety, structured but sensual. Reverting back to Mike Bennie’s quote – We understand the similarities but appreciate their unique differences.   

JC’s production is small with many of his latest releases already sold-out back home including his spectacular ’17 Greenock Shiraz. Our allocation is small, 120 bottles to be precise. This is one wine that we would urge all Shiraz lovers to purchase. Those who feel £65 for each of the four Standish wines is a tad too rich but love the idea – This is the one for you!  

 
 
 

Special highlight

JC's Own Greenock Shiraz 2017

Mike Bennie (The Wine Front) "Jaysen Collins from Massena, well, he is his own man, but that’s his day job, doing a side project here. Or is Massena the side project? No matter. Some great wines emerging from this label, reminiscent of Standish in some respects, power but elegance, shaped by tannins, and the like, but wholly its own thing too. The last JC’s shiraz wine reviewed here was 2016 and from Stonewall, this from Greenock and 2017. Bold, brash, assertive red of booze-soaked stewed berries, sweet spice, earthy savouriness, brined black olives with a match between the fog of scent and wall of flavour. A freight train through the palate but finds graphite-licked tannin plumes and good shape with a surprisingly fresh and buoyant finish. Yes, a big red, but finds a groove, indeed, carves one out and leaves a lingering train of autumnal but sweet flavours. It’s a pretty darn epic wine here."

£36.50 per bottle
or £34.50 per bottle when you buy a case of 6

* Available from Thursday 22 August *

Also available In Bond for £159.10 per case of 6

 
 

Stylistically Dan's wines are as rich and profound as you would expect from Barossa Valley old vines, but they have a satin texture and dreamy perfume that sets them far apart from his contemporaries. Here, dark fruits are encased in cocoa and earthy richness but with gentle spice, soil tone, asphalt and a stony minerality that gives the wines a beautiful dimension. These are very special Australian wines.

Distinguish each of Dan's extraordinary wines for yourself

Buy all four wines together in one great mixed case

 

1 x Standish The Standish Shiraz 2017
Sourced from: Laycock Family Vineyard, Parbs Road, Greenock
100% Shiraz

1 x Standish The Relic Shiraz Viognier 2017
Sourced from: Hongell Family Vineyard Krondorf 
98% Shiraz, 2% Viognier

1 x Standish The Schubert Theorem 2017
Sourced from: Roennfeldt Road, Marananga
100% Shiraz

1 x Standish Lamella Shiraz 2017
Sourced from: Hutton Vale Farm, Eden Valley
100% Shiraz

£259.80 per case of 4

* Available from Thursday 22 August *

 

Just arrived in the UK
and are days away from
hitting our shelves...

 

• Bottles sold (January 2017 to date): 60,127

• Total Value (ex VAT): £1,267,548.83

• 104 pallets (576 bottles per pallet)

• 5 x 40ft Shipping container full of Two Hands Wines

• Our new shipment consisted of 6,114 bottles

• 3,133 have been sold prior to arrival.

We wonder how long these will last…

 

From the new Garden Series collection, Max’s Garden has sold out to pre-delivery orders, with healthier quantities of Samantha’s, Harriet’s, Charlie's, Lily’s & Bella’s available to order by the bottle or case…

* Available from Thursday 22 August *

 

Under bond stocks from their Single Vineyard Series have either sold-out or are perilously low with no further stocks arriving until mid-2020.

 

Craig Stansborough is no stranger to Vinorium customers, who have long been enjoying wines which he crafts at Grant Burge – home to the award-winning Meshach Shiraz and one of the boss’s favourite Cabernet Sauvignon, 
Corryton Park.

We will be welcoming Craig and business partner Mark at our Portfolio Tasting on 28th September. Of course, you will have the opportunity to sample their entire Purple Hands collection many of which are not, yet, available in the UK including their single vineyard Italian varietals which look super-exciting. All wines will be poured by their own hands with detailed explanations from the two chaps who make them!  

We are considering organising a special Purple Hands dinner at 67 Pall Mall on the evening of Friday 27 September. Craig and Mark are currently rummaging in their cellar to see what delights they can share with a handful of customers who will attend this special tasting. Please drop us an email if you would like to be the first to know about this event.The Ticket price will be in the region of £100.00 which will include a sumptuous, three course dinner and an evening of amazing wine all in the company of Stu, Craig & Mark. 10 Tickets will be available.

But why wait as their wines are in the UK and ready to ship?

Back in 2000, Craig planted his own vineyard with eight hectares of Shiraz simply as an opportunity to express himself and play with varieties which do not fit the mould at Grant Burge. Six years later, Craig, together with his “good mate” and fellow wine lover Mark, hand-picked 1.25 tons of perfectly ripe Shiraz fruit, which they later processed in Craig’s shed. As they both recall the early days, “It was a lot of fun and we both got purple hands out of it.”

The pair produce a range of incredible wines that include their standout, single vineyard collection named the After Five Wine Co. Their Shiraz & Grenache blew the team away. The quality, balance and polish are impossible to find at this price-point. Simply sensational and we cannot wait to re-sample them both next week.

After Five Wine Co. Barossa Shiraz 2017

Mike Bennie, Wine Front "Single vineyard shiraz from the Barossa Valley. Absolutely pitch perfect. Neat as a pin, flushed with flavour, balanced, generous, polished; everything is in brilliant good order. Plums, cloves, sweet earth, cocoa and tar. It’s Barossa shiraz on parade. Tannin is fine-grained but firm. Everything feels right."

£28.95 per bottle
or £26.50 per bottle when you buy a case of 6

* Available from Thursday 22 August *

Also available In Bond for £119.10 per case of 6

After Five Wine Co. Single Vineyard Grenache 2018

Hand picked 25% whole clusters added to concrete open fermenter with the balance crushed on top. After fermentation commenced heading boards were placed on top. Fermentation temperatures were allowed to peak at 32C before cooling to 24C for the balance. After 11 days on skins the wine was basket pressed to older 500 lt French oak barrels. The wine was matured on lees in oak for 16 months before bottle. No finings used. Red with purple hues. Aromas of strawberry, kirsh, earth, with hints of bergamot. Great flesh with textural long tannin.

£28.95 per bottle
or £26.50 per bottle when you buy a case of 6

* Available from Thursday 22 August *

Also available In Bond for £119.10 per case of 6

 

More recently, Craig and Mark discovered 468 exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon vines hidden at the back of an old vineyard across the road from the Zerk Family Vineyard. After some investigation by a historian, they discovered that the vineyard was planted some time during the mid-1800s with the Cabernet Sauvignon estimated to have been planted sometime between 1880 and 1890 and these are thought to be some of the oldest Cabernet vines in Australia if not the world. It is these ancient vines that make up their super-special Planta Circa Ancestor Vine Cabernet Sauvignon.

Planta Circa production is tiny – It would be fair to say this is more of a hobby than a commercial exercise with no more than 100 cases being produced each vintage. A generous 10% of their total production was made available to all Vinorium customers. Only 65 bottles remain. 

Planta Circa Ancestor Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

98 Points - James Halliday "From a single vineyard owned by the Zerk family, planted 1880 to 1890, making it one of the oldest cabernet vineyards in Australia (and the world). Wild yeast-open fermented, hand-plunged, 8 days on skins, pressed to French hogsheads (44% new), on lees 17 months. This is pure and simple cabernet, elegant, long and finely structured. A great cabernet vintage for this great vineyard."

£40.95 per bottle

Strictly limited to six bottles per customer / per street

* Available from Thursday 22 August *

 

We passed the time with Purple Hands Wines in our June addition of A Taste of The Vinorium. It’s a fabulous Q&A and really worth a read for those who missed it .