Q&A with Winemaker Ben Glaetzer
First off, I should start by saying Ben has been one of my personal favourite winemakers for nearly three years now. I had the pleasure of meeting Ben at a Public Wine tasting in the city one day. After consuming many wines at the tasting, as one does, we stumbled to Ben’s table, and the rest is history. Ben was kind enough to let us pick his brain and try all of his wines, and it became a new favourite not only for me, but for the group I was with.
Throughout my time in Melbourne’s Wine Industry, I’ve gotten to cross paths with Ben every year. Each time I see him, he remembers my name, where I work, and asks how my friends he met that night are. Not only is Ben an extremely talented Wine Maker, but a genuinely great person who always puts a smile on your face.
Enough chit chat, here’s your Q+A with Mr. Glaetzer:
Colleen: Glaetzer Wines is a company run by your entire family, and you were born into this industry. What was it like being a child raised by winemakers with their own vineyard?
Ben: My Family are indeed all involved in the wine industry however Glaetzer Wines is owned & operated by myself and my Father, Colin. My older Brother works for Constellation based in St Helena, California and my younger brother is based in Tasmania with Glaetzer-Dixon. Wine was always part of our childhood and upbringing….I guess I didn’t know anything different!
C: Have you known all along you were going to stay in the Wine Industry? Did it ever cross your mind to say, work a 9-5 in accounting somewhere in the city? Do you think your son Wilbur will continue the family business as well?
B:I certainly never thought of ever having a 9-5 role and any occupation I had would have been majority outdoors although I entertained the idea for being a doctor for a while. Wilbur pretty intelligent so I don’t think he’ll become a winemaker….. but you never know. He and his Sisters (Isla and Imogen) are fortunate enough to be growing up surrounded by the vineyards of the Barossa so one or all may give winemaking a shot.
C: What do you consider to be the biggest contribution you have made to the Glaetzer Wines?
B:The old vine vineyards we have are an amazing resource – full of history. Being able to harness that history each vintage and allow the vines to express their true quality would be my greatest contribution.
C: Tell us about the places you’ve worked and learned from.
B:It’s amazing the amount you can learn just by tasting wines from around the world. I travel overseas for about 4-5 months a year visiting our importers, distributors and visiting our restaurant retail customers. Being in market is the best place to learn what works well wine-wise in individual locations and it’s great to see the Glaetzer wines enjoyed in so many diverse places with just as diverse cuisine.
C: What has been your most memorable vintage at Glaetzer Wines?
B:Good question. 2004 and 2012 were very well “behaved” as vintages, 2016 was a stunner. 2011 was an utter nightmare.
C: You currently only have red wines for Glaetzer Wines. Do you think you’ll create a White Wine, or even a Rose?
B:Our vineyards are all in the northern reaches of the Barossa. The land, aspect, soil and climate are all exceptional for full bodied, balanced red wines. I’d rather let the winemakers with better white/rose suited sites create their expressions of them.
C: I remember you telling a story about the Anaperenna Wine, and it being involved in a story with a horse. Would you share it again?
B: I’d love to but we have an agreement not to use that story in print. I’m happy to share it verbally though. I can almost laugh about it now. Almost…..
C: How have you personally seen the drinking market change? Trends, preferences, etc?
B:There’s a brilliant focus on individual sites, wines that express the essence of their origin and have diverse interpretations of their home. Wines are being made with purity and an orientation that complements food rather than dominates. Gone are the days of “standard dry red”.
C: CRU offers the Anaperenna and the Amon-Ra for guests to enjoy. What dishes/style of food would you pair both of these with?
B: Both wines, despite being full bodied, show restraint and a certain sense of elegance. They of course suit wholesome dishes, grilled meats and the like but can also complement more subtle dishes such as oven roasted chicken and many pasta styles
C: What are a few wines that you have on your bucket list to try?
B:I love Italian wines so would love to spend a few days in the cellars of Angelo Gaja. Failing that a few nice bottles of Krug Clos du Mesnil would suffice.
C: Describe Glaetzer Wines in one word.