Amon Ra exemplifies Shiraz from Barossa, combining power with an inexorable focus on harmony and balance. It is one of the most exciting wines coming from the new world, released at a very competitive price and offers excellent investment potential.
Ben Glaetzer is one of the most exciting young winemakers the world over. He is part of a wine dynasty that like many Barossa producers heralds from a progeny of German immigrants arriving in the late 19th Century (1888); instrumental in the creation of the South Australian wine industry. Colin Glaetzer, Ben’s father, set up the family business in 1995 and their ascension into wine celebrity has been rapid. In 2003 Amon Ra was awarded its first potential 100 point score from Robert Parker himself, catapulting them onto the world stage and cementing their place in the strong US market. Parker’s 100 point score surprised many as their wines are not manifested with the ‘archetypal’ blockbuster style associated with a 100 point Parker wine (Parker futilely refutes this opinion). Amon Ra is extremely concentrated, powerful and beautifully structured wine, yet this is combined with a lovely elegance and harmony that reflects Ben’s opinion that ‘there are more dimensions to Australian wine than many people give credit for’, his wines justify this belief.
The Glaetzer family are extremely devoted to Barossa and all their fruit is sourced from a square mile of vineyards located in Ebenezer a small and highly celebrated sub-region. Their vines are ancient, producing low yields of concentrated and healthy fruit from vines that range from 80 to 130 years: Barossa is one of the last bastions of old vines largely unaffected by the scourge of Phylloxera.
Glaetzer Amon Ra
Amon Ra is the king of the Gods in Egyptian mythology. Amon Ra’s temple is believed to be the first temple to ever plant a monoculture vineyard for the auspices of the temple citizens. The label depicts the eye of Horus, a powerful symbol of protection, which represents a figure consisting of six parts that correspond to the Egyptian six senses; touch, taste, hearing, sight, smell and thought. Ben’s philosophy behind Amon Ra is a creation that appeals to each of these six senses. How hearing fits into this we have no idea!
Amon Ra is made from 100% from Shiraz, from vines 50 to 130 years in age harvested at one tonne per hectare. It is aged for 14 months in 100% new oak; 95% French and 5% American, adding smoke, toast, cedar, brioche, notes of pineapple, which harmonises the fruits power further. The key to Amon Ra is the balance of fruit and tannin extraction. The fruit expresses the wonderful terrior which preserves its natural beauty. The wine is perennially concentrated and rich yet possess a wonderful freshness, particularly evident in 2012, which displays dark fruit, spice, black liqourice, blackcurrant and dark cherry. The palate is weighty, balanced and complex with fine ripe tannin and a long finish. Amon Ra 2010 will impress now yet improve in bottle for 20 years.
Anaperenna was inspired by the Roman Goddess of the New Year, Anna Perenna. The Romans honoured Anna Perenna on the first full moon of the Roman calendar, March 15th and would ask Anna to grant longevity and a healthy year with each glass of wine they drunk on that day. The bottle’s symbol on the label represents the Egyptian Ankh, which symbolises sunrise, regeneration, regrowth and renewal.
Anaperenna follows the exacting winemaking standards of the Amon Ra, but diverges in its blend; it is a seamless fusion of 82% Shiraz and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines age range from 30 to 100 years for the Shiraz and 30 to 130 for the Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in 100% new oak, 92% French and 8% American, where is rests for 16 months. When we tasted this blind the first time it blew us away and the Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely apparent, adding weight at the front of the palate and toting the length. The 2012 combine grace and elegance, with high notes of crushed dried herbs, cassis and sweet spice. The nose is focused and dense and the palate is wonderfully structured with copious richness. Like the Amon Ra the Anaperenna will improve for decades in bottle.
Bishop is the family name of Colin’s wife Judith; aptly, the label represents the sign of Venus, a symbol of feminine energy. The symbol derives from the Greek equivalent for Aphrodite and can be linked back to ancient Egypt, completing the triumvirate with Amon Ra and Anaperenna.
Bishop can be best considered as the sister of Amon Ra, yet is very impressive in its own right: where no expense is spared. The vines range from is 35 to 120 years, although the majority are taken from younger vines and therefore accentuating in a fresh and vibrant energy, combined with some of the older blocks in the Ebenezer vineyard, which provide structure and balance to the palate profile. The wine is aged in 40% new oak and 60% in oak 2-3 years old, combining 90% French and 1% American for 14 months. The 2012 is deep purple and the nose displays dense cassis, blackcurrant with floral notes of violet. The palate is rich, voluptuous and with a spicy mouth-feel and a long elegant finish. What is most surprising about the Bishop is that they keep the price per bottle on release under £17: it is made to be enjoyed while you wait for the Amon Ra and Anaperenna to hit their stride.
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