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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Welcome to Gold Medal Wine Club. America's Leading Independent Wine Club since 1992. Celebrating 20+ Years!
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Australia - McLaren Vale & Barossa Valley


High quality, distinctive, wines at every price point

One of the more interesting aspects of the Australian wine industry is its amazing resilience to the problems that face many wine producing nations. Australia is a country that has many positive aspects that affect its wine industry. It has abundant land to develop its vineyards and a labor force that assures that continued development. Australian wines have gained worldwide acceptance and are known for excellent price/value relations.
The one glaring problem area for Australia is a definitive lack of water for these vineyards. This problem has led to reduced crops during periods of sustained drought or even during times of reduced rainfall.

Through all of this, Australia has proven to be a reliable producer of high quality wines, particularly at the lower end of the pricing spectrum. Consistency of product from year to year along with excellent palate appeal account for Australian wines’ continued success in both restaurant and off-premise consumption alike.

This is not to say that there are many extremely high quality wines being produced down under. While the country’s Hunter Valley in New South Wales is most often compared to Napa Valley or even France’s Burgundy and Bordeaux, it is the smaller wine producing areas in Australia that have made giant steps forward in producing some really exceptional international quality wines.

Places like the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Yarra Valley, Margaret River and other top growing areas have excelled during the past two decades and continue to impress with their stellar wines. The country itself is home to a stunning 60 designated wine regions that are located in practically every wine-growing section of Australia.

The country has also benefited from excellent marketing by its government and the fact that it has been able to maintain its relatively low cost of many wines to the consuming public. International perception of Australian wines is that they represent excellent values, and even include upper end wines that are being produced and sold internationally.

Australian wines have been awarded numerous medals and have garnered top scores in every major competition and periodical, particularly in the United States and Great Britain.

A real treat for anyone lucky enough to attend is the biennial Tasting Australia, a showcase event that features a large number of the country’s best wines. A trip to this wonderful happening could easily turn into the experience of a lifetime for anyone really interested in wines.

It is a pleasure to feature wines from Australia in this International Wine Club Series. We trust you will expand your knowledge and enjoyment of these wines and pay additional attention to wines from Australia in the future.

  1. Chapel Hill
    2012 Proprietary White Blend
    Chapel Hill
    'il Vescovo' - Australia


    GMWC Special Import
    id: 2235
  2. Flegenheimer Bros.
    2010 Proprietary Red Blend
    Flegenheimer  Bros.
    Reserve - Australia


    93 - Robert Parker
    id: 2236
  3. Glaetzer
    2012 Shiraz
    "Bishop" - Australia


    92 - Stephen Tanzer Intl.
    id: 2237

Top Winemakers from down under

Winemaker, Ben Glaetzer:
Born in 1977 in New South Wales, Ben Glaetzer hails from a winemaking family. His father, Colin, was fortified and sparkling winemaker for giant Seppelts before moving to the Barossa Valley. Colin Glaetzer next became winemaker for Barossa Valley Estate where his son Ben starting working in the cellar at age 10. Ben attended Prince Alfred College and the University of Adelaide and gained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with an Oenology major at age 19. He immediately went to work for Tyrell’s Vineyards in Australia’s Hunter Valley. He ascended to a position of consultant to industry giant Pernod Ricard where he was responsible for all of Tyrell’s wines from various parts of Australia.

Today Ben Glaetzer serves as a winemaker for a number of successful wineries in both the Barossa Valley and nearby McLaren Vale. Wine guru Robert Parker chose Ben Glaetzer as his wine personality of the year for 2005. He is also the winemaker for another of this International Selections wines, the Flegenheimer Brothers 2010 Reserve Red.

Winemaker, Michael Fragos:
Chapel Hill Winery’s Chief Winemaker Michael Fragos is a home grown wine practitioner from a winegrowing family that was born on a vineyard in McLaren Vale, home to Chapel Hill Winery.He possesses a keen knowledge of the terroir of McLaren Vale that has led him to a number of international awards. The prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition named him the International Winemaker of the Year in 2007 and he has also been named Bushing King winner for three times. The award is part of the Amcor McLaren Vale Wine Show and designates the area’s top winemaker.

Three of Australia's top boutique producers

Glaetzer Winery:
Founded in 1995 by Colin Glaetzer, the winery released its first wines a year later. Glaetzer winery is a small, boutique winery producing super-premium wines that are emblematic of the Barossa Valley. Its fruit comes from a small sub region of the Barossa Valley, aptly called Ebenezer. These vineyards are dry farmed and constitute an important aspect of Australia’s winemaking heritage that dates back more than a century and a half. Many are old-vine plantings (80-110 years old) and are exceptionally low yielding plants, some producing as low as one-quarter ton per acre.

Flegenheimer Brothers Wines:
Owned by American Benjamin Hammerschlag, the winery is named after the early Flagenheimer Family of New York, one of America’s earliest wine merchants. Hammerschlag’s great-great grandfather married a Flegenheimer girl and the winery is in tribute to that union.
A native of Washington, DC, Hammerschlag graduated with a BS degree from Cornell University’s famed hotel school. In the fall of 1999, he took a three-week trip to Australia to learn the lay of the land. He decided on McLaren Vale as the site for his new winery and began producing award-winning wines from the very beginning. He employed the remarkable Ben Glaetzer as his winemaker and today’s Flegenheimer Brothers wines are considered among the finest in all Australia.

Chapel Hill Winery:
Restored in the early 1970’s by Adelaide professor Tom Nelson, Chapel Hill Winery was the original ironstone Christian Bible Church for McLaren Vale. The winery’s first releases were in 1973 and brought plaudits and high honors for its wines. After a series of ownership changes, The Swiss family of Thomas Schmidheiny (Napa Valley’s Cuvaison Winery) currently owns Chapel Hill Winery.
The winery’s philosophy involves the continuation of its significant program of environmental and sustainability projects that involves organic and bio-dynamic farming. It owns almost 110 acres of vineyards that are considered that are among the finest in the McLaren Vale area.

About The Region

McLaren Vale Wine Region:
Located some 25 miles south of Adelaide in South Australia is the top wine producing area known as McLaren Vale. It is blessed by a Mediterranean climate that allows for four distinct seasons and possesses long warm days and short cool nights. There is practically no rain between December and April, near perfect environment for growing and maturing grapes.

Geographically, McLaren Vale extends southward to the Sellicks Hill Range and to the west by the influential Gulf St. Vincent. Soils are quite important in McLaren Vale. Fertile red-brown earths (terra rossa, redzina) are combined with several soft sands and a mixture of darker, hard clays. These soils are all free draining and hold little water. This combination allows for drip irrigation and complete watering control of the vineyards. Nearly 90 wineries are located in McLaren Vale, many of which are the boutique or small family-type. That fact offers a wide variety of distinctive wines from which to choose.

The region was first planted around 1840 and is host to the wonderful Shiraz varietal that amounts to almost 50% of the area’s total grape production. McLaren Vales wines are renowned for their elegance and complexity and are most often compared to France’s finest wines.

With Australia’s harvest season beginning in late February (a complete reversal from that of California and Europe who generally begin in early September), South Australian vintners get an early break from their later ripening counterparts.

The Barossa Valley Wine Region:
Also located in South Australia, the Barossa Valley is found some 35 miles northeast of Adelaide. The Barossa Valley was formed by the North Para River and derives its name from the Barossa Ranges that dominate the region. The Barossa Valley is inhabited mostly by people of German and British heritage, most of whom settled the area in the mid-19th Century. The word Barossa was actually meant to honor the British victory over France at the Battle of Barrosa in 1811, but was misspelled due to a clerical error. It has remained Barossa ever since.
Once again, the venerable Shiraz is the principal grape grown in the Barossa Valley. Many of the top Australian wine companies are located here. Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Yalumba and a number of others have extensive holdings in the Barossa Valley.

The generally hot climate of the valley mostly produces very ripe fruit that contains high levels of sugars and low levels of acids. A large amount of American oak is used by Barossa’s winemakers in deference to French Oak that is used universally throughout Australia.