John's Blend Shiraz; 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