Heartland took home the “Best Shiraz” Trophy at the 2013 Langhorne Creek Winemakers Showcase last week. A group of well-known judges including wine writer Huon Hooke tasted over eight categories in the showcase. The Best Shiraz trophy was awarded to the 2010 Director’s Cut Shiraz. Click here to read the full press release.
Owner and winemaker Ben Glaetzer’s work in Langhorne Creek is one of the most exciting stories in Australia today. Heartland Wines came out of a lunch in 1999 between Ben and three friends, and a fear that rather than expressing the diversity of sites and rich history of the country, Australian wines were heading in a generic, commercial direction. Ben had grown excited at older, high quality vineyards he had seen in the cool-climate Langhorne Creek area, Australia’s oldest settled wine region, one hour south of Adelaide and southeast of McLaren Vale. With a temperature summation approximately equivalent to Alsace, the best Langhorne Creek vineyards benefit from very cool nights that offset warm days, with temperature swings that can reach nearly 40 degrees within a day. The Heartland Wines from Langhorne Creek display the originality and appeal of the area’s regional and varietal characteristics – they are food-friendly, balanced wines offering tremendous value.
The Heartland red wines feature lifted aromatics, a notable savory and spicy profile, soft tannins, and a beautiful texture and structure. They offer highly expressive fruit with precision and elegance. The whites have explosive aromatics and racy citrus, mineral profiles that stand out in comparison to pre-conceived notions of Australian white wines, and are flat out exceptional at their price points. Both reds and whites feature grape varieties uncommonly seen in Australian wines, but perfectly suited to the cool, Langhorne Creek climate. Red varieties include Lagrein from northern Italy, a grape that Ben Glaetzer is especially excited about due to its acid retention and subsequent combination of rich fruit and vibrancy. Dolcetto is another red northern Italian varietal planted at Heartland, which again thrives in the cool climate, developing wines of wonderful brightness and expressiveness. White grapes include Verdelho, Viognier, Semillon and Pinot Gris. These grapes have different fruit character, texture and weight, but all the Heartland whites feature lively aromatics, freshness and zesty spiciness.
Langhorne Creek today is a region that young, dynamic winemakers have discovered and are transforming from a “quiet” appellation of quality wines to one of the upcoming regional stars of Australia. The unique climate and the quality old vines first attracted Ben, and in addition to the Heartland vineyards, Ben works with about two dozen growers that have vineyards ranging from 30 to 140 years of age. The vineyards are on a largely flat plain, sheltered beyond the Mt Lofty ranges. The “Lake Doctor” phenomenon is a cool ocean breeze that comes across Lake Alexandrina every afternoon and moderates temperatures. The Heartland name refers to the region's history as the oldest winegrowing region in Australia. Some of Heartland’s growers are also located in neighboring Limestone Coast, which by virtue of its cooler climate and differing, limestone soils, produces wines of finesse and elegance.
Twice nominated for Wine Enthusiast's "Winemaker of the Year" award in 2008 and 2009, Ben Glaetzer was also recognized as one of Robert Parker’s Wine Personalities of the Year in 2005. Parker wrote: "When I look at the winemaker behind some of my favorite Australian wines, the name Ben Glaetzer seems to come up frequently. From a winemaking family dating back to the late 19th century, he has shown an exquisite talent for accessing fabulous vineyards and turning out world class wines from old-vine Shiraz and Grenache. His Amon-Ra Shiraz is one of the great new wines of Australia, made with power as well as elegance. This is a serious talent who has exploded on the wine scene with a brilliant array of wines". In addition to Heartland, Ben is winemaker at Glaetzer Wines and Mitolo.