Two Hands #winestudio

Image resultAustralia.  The birthplace of Shiraz.  The wild frontier.  All of these things conjure up images of the pioneering spirit of the Aussie wine industry.  With Two Hands Wines, this story continues with quality, not compromise, from some of South Australia’s best known wine regions.

The idea for Two Hands was born in September 1999, when founders Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz set out to make their own mark on the wine industry with the goal of making the best possible representation of Australian wine:  Shiraz.

With so much Australian wine being exported around the world, the duo knew that best in class wines were not always being represented globally.  With an eye on the prize of making spectacular iwnes that representaed each of the regions and blends, as well as representing the all encompassing terroir, they set out ot highlight the trademark grape of Australia.

The first vintage was produced in 2000, and today, they have three distinct product lines and over 10 wines in production.


Quality without compromise is central to the Two Hands philosophy, driving all the decisions from fruit and oak selection to packaging and promotion.


Throughout the month of October, we were able to taste six spectacular wines from Two Hands, from the Garden Series, the Picture Series, and the penultimate Ares.  Sharing our conversations with winemaker Ben Perkins, as he walked us through his inspiration and style choices.


Image result for two hands gnarly dudes2014 Gnarly Dudes Barossa Valley Shiraz

Bawdy, brawly, bold and inky dark purple..  This is what I think of when I think of Barossa Shiraz.  Full bodied and bursting with blackberries, espresso, old leather and cracked pepper, this is a bruiser.  The bitter espresso tannins mellow out after a bit of air, and I enjoyed it more at the last sip versus the first.  Using only 15% new French oak gives this wine lovely structure without overwhelming it.  Crafted from several parcels, each was crushed and fermented in small open top containers.  Each batch was vinified separately, and blended just before bottling.  ~$22


Image result for two hands angels share2014 Angels Share McLaren Vale Shiraz

Rounder, softer, less masculine than Gnarly Dudes, the Angels Share reminds of why I love McLaren Vale.  The savory, herbal notes show bacon, tomato leaf and eucalyptus flavors, with dark cherries and chocolate at the finish.  The silky tannins work well with this unfined and unfiltered wine, which also uses minimal oak aging to maintain the fresh and fruity flavors.  ~$22



Image result2014 Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon


Dark and chewy, this earthy Cabernet was quite herbal with firm tannins.  Espresso and lavender pop out and play.  As with many cabs, this wine spent more time in oak, with 15% new French balancing out a combination of one to five year old barrels.  The result is a fresh but firm minty, earthy, McLaren Vale cab, that is a great example of what Australia has to offer beyond Shiraz.  ~$22


The Picture Series demonstrates outstanding value in Australian Shiraz (and Cabernet), while showing the key differences between Barossa and McLaren Vale.  With the Garden Series, Ben delves deeper in to the versatility of Australian Shiraz. U unfortunately, one of my bottles was damaged in transit so I only have the delightful 2014 Lily’s Garden McLaren Vale Shiraz to review but it was, indeed. delightful.


Two Hands Wines Lilys Garden Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia labelRich blue fruit, ripe plums and wild blueberries.  Round and plus, with generous spice notes and lingering vanilla.  While this wine spends a long time in oak, with only 6% new French oak, the plushness of the ripe and lush fruit remains and the luscious palate leaves your mouth watering.  ~$45



12ARE750DOM_01Finally, the masterpiece and flagship wine, the 2012 Ares Shiraz.

This deep, dark, dense and unctuous wine was res pendant with dark berries, rich chocolate, ciagar box spice and graphite as well as undertones of smoked meat.

With Shiraz being the cultural and literal heart of the the Two Hands story, this wine is carefully selected every year from the very best of the 1,500 barrels.  The Ares is a cuvée of these hand selected barrels, and is the pinnacle of the line.  Aged for 2 years in mostly new French oak, this big boy can take it, and the oak is well interested and smooth, holding up this grand dame of Two Hands.





A very special thank you to Two Hands Wines and #winestudio for bringing these wines to us.  #winestudio is an interactive beverage education program organized via Twitter, where each month, a different these is selected to build an online conversation connecting winemakers, producers, bloggers and consumers.


Que Syrah Syrah!

This is a tale of two syrahs.  No, not a sirah and a syrah but two syrahs!  When I first heart about David Cole’s wine, he was working on another project called Redline, which I bought through my friends at WineQ.  I knew then they this guy had talent, and I was very excited when I found out that he had started another project, James David Cellars.

Now, I’ve already reviewed the Muscat Blanc here,  and you probably already know that I adore syrah.  But let me tell you WHY I adore syrah.  The vast differences in growing regions here in California, produce some unique and interesting syrahs that differ as much as Hetch Hetchy tap water differs from sulfuric spring water from the spa at Bath.

Syrah, which is certain southern hemisphere countries, or maybe even in Canada is referred to as Shiraz is a dark-skinned beauty which produces powerful red wines and luscious rose wines.  It has a long and illustrious history as one of the primary Rhone varietals of southern France, but it’s origins are dubious at best.  As near as we can tell, Syrah is the child of some grapes that I’ve never heard of, which are native to a small area in southeastern France, making Syrah one of the original Rhône grapes.

Syrah here in the US is typically one of two types, warm climate, or cool climate.  Now these are very different types of wine, and it’s fun to compare the two side by side to see the difference.  In warmer regions, like Paso Robles, it can often be blended with other Rhône varieties.  One example, and a personal favorite, is a GSM or Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre blend.  The cooler coast and mountain growing regions tend to produce more single varietal syrah.


Here, we start with the 2005 Eaglepoint Ranch Syarh from Mendocino.  Eaglepoint Ranch is a vineyard that is a partnership between John Scharffenberger, of both chocolate and sparkling wine fame, and viticulturist Casey Hartlip.  Eaglepoint produces Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Grenache.  James David’s syrah from this vineyard gave me aromas of coffee, chocolate, and cedar.  It was dark and brooding, just what I love on a cold fall night.  On the palate I tasted espresso, bright red fruit, smoke, juniper and burnt toast, and the hint of prunes followed by caramel.  With a layer of black pepper, the black fruit of this wine was perfect in front of the fireplace on the rainy night I pened it.  This is a classic cool climate syrah, with firm and chewy textures followed by smoked meat flavors.  The wine that drinks like a meal!  Priced at $24, this wine tastes a lot more expensive and is worth it.  STRONG BUY

Next, I tried the 2005 James David Cellars Central Coast Syrah.  This wine is a blend of two vineyards from the Central Coast region, one in Paso Robles, and one in Monterey. It’s what I imagine when I think of warm climate syrah, with tons of fruit and juicy flavors.  On the nose, I smelled a lot of plum and red fruit, which was followed by blue fruit, and juicy dark raspberries on the palate.  This is a great pizza wine, and is easy drinking and more simple than the Eaglepoint Ranch above.  At $21, it’s also worth trying to see a classic Paso syrah in action.  BUY


I’m excited that David is coming out with a Pinot and Cab in the near future, so please go out, try the syrahs and stay tuned for more!  Tell em The Wine Brat sent you 🙂