This past month, there was another great rendition of Wine Studio where several of us bloggers types receive wines and then take to the Twittersphere to discuss the wines, usually with the winemakers of the wines before us.
The series is organized and moderated (to the extent that one can) by the indefatigable Tina Morey who is relentless in her pursuit of interesting wines and personalities for the group to discuss.
This latest Wine Studio featured wines from Australian producer Two Hands Wines, which, despite being relatively new to the industry (the winery was founded in 1999), Two Hands has established itself as one of the première brands in the country.
While I was happy to partake in another Wine Studio, I approached this version with more than a dollop of trepidation.
Well, I have tried Two Hands Wines before, and while I have always been impressed, I have to be honest in that I have never really approached Australian wines with much gusto. Does that make me a bad person?
But in my defense, Australia wines have a reputation of being overly fruity and, well, a bit of a mess.
In fact, these wines might be the best group of wines top to bottom in all of the Wine Studios in which I have participated thus far.
2014 Two Hands Angel’s Share Shiraz McLaren Vale: Retail $36. The “Angel’s Share” is the term that was applied to the amount of wine lost due to evaporation while aging in oak barrels. Inky dark, with brooding dark berry fruit. It comes off a shade hot (14.8%) on the nose, but the luscious fruit quickly pushes the heat out of the picture. On the palate, rich, as one would expect, but also spicy, with a bit of earth and surprising depth. Yes, this is a big, bold, wine. But it is also balanced and delicious. This is not a wine to hold on to for any extended period of time, so twist off the top and enjoy now. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz Barossa Valley: Retail $36. Also really dark, but sweeter on the nose, more of a black-cherry-pie-with-a-scoop-of-vanilla-ice-cream kind of sweet. The side of heat is missing here, though (13.8%), and it is even a bit more brambly. On the palate, the theme continues–voluptuous fruit that envelops the mouth. It would be easy to get lost in all that fruit, but there is considerable depth here as well, with an earthiness peaking through on the mid-palate. The fruit persists all the way through the finish and beyond–a wonderful wine even if you shy away from really big Shiraz. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2015 Two Hands Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon McLaren Vale: Retail $36. Another dark wine, but this exhibits more classic Cab notes (understandably) of black raspberry and tobacco. On the palate, though, this is chock-full of fruit and noticeably richer than the other two (although a touch of heat here as well [14.5%]). There is intrigue here too, once one wades through all that fruit. Like its Shiraz brethren, this wine does not really call for food, but (again, like the others) this is oh so tasty. Really. I was skeptical and hesitant, but this might even get a Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2014 Two Hands Lily’s Garden Shiraz McLaren Vale: Retail $70. Named after Michael Twelftree’s (the founder of Two Hands) daughter who was born on August 13th, 2001. Plum, white pepper, and cherry, big and full with all of the above and some mocha and sage thrown in. This is certainly on the big side (14.5%), but not overwhelming by any means. Most people think of Aussie wines as big, syrupy, and fruity. While this is rather big, and certainly fruity, it stops well short of syrupy. In fact, this is a really nicely balanced wine (yes, wines above 14% can be balanced, too), that paired really well with my grilled trip-tip. Really well. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2014 Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz Barossa Valley: Retail $70. Named after the original founder’s daughter who was born on July 28th, 2002. Blackberry and black pepper softened by some vanilla and just a tad hot on the nose even though this is lower in alcohol (13.5%). Richer fruit here, but a shade lighter and comes off as a bit more spicy than the Lily’s. Tasting this wine, and comparing it to the Lily’s, I wonder what is the stronger influence…the region or the winemaker. While there are some subtle differences between the two wines, the similarities are much more prevalent. Nonetheless, I find this wine slightly more compelling. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.