Fronted by Michael Twelftree, with Ben Perkins as winemaker, Two Hands focuses on wines from McLaren Vale and Barossa, especially big, burly, seductive Shiraz. Since kicking off in 2000, Two Hands wines have received effusive praise from big wine publications and won spots on numerous Top 10 lists.
I’ve been interested in Two Hands wines since I was a legal purchaser of alcohol. Back then, I couldn't afford the wines, but I was obsessed with Australia and spent too much time drooling over tasting notes and high scores. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to taste a whole lot of Two Hands wines, from the massive flagship Ares Shiraz to the delightful and fun Brilliant Disguise Moscato. The wines are all expertly made and delicious. I can’t think of an outlier.
Hope Estate was new to me, although it’s been around since 1994, when proprietor Michael Hope purchased a property in Hunter Valley with about 30 acres of vines. The entire property is massive (about 250 acres), and it has been developed as a big Hunter Valley destination. It now boasts an amphitheater that can hold up to 20,000 guests, apparently big enough that The Boss himself (Broooce!) is playing there in 2017 — holy shit!
Hope Estate wines are moderately priced and crowd-pleasing, although they’re well-made and quite complex (even age-worthy) for their price points.
SRP: $36 Lively red currant color. Dark and saucy aromas of black cherry, blueberry, black currant, along with spiced tea, clove, menthol, vanilla bean and cedar. Full-bodied with fleshy tannins, this is such a velvety/rich mouthfeel but it goes down quite easily in spite of that. Juicy black cherry, black currant fruit mix with a hint of tart blueberry. Deep earthiness in this wine, like charcoal pit, tree bark, loamy soil, pine sap — the whole deal (but in a really tasty way). Lots of clove, coffee and dark chocolate notes as well. Lots of complexity in here but the deliciousness factor of the fruit is way up there. Tasty now, but this should get more luscious over the next three to four years. Aged in 15% new French oak. (89 points)
SRP: $36 Deep purple color. Smoky, earthy, savory notes on the nose (pepper, barbecue sauce, scorched earth) on top of gobs of black cherry and blackberry fruit, add in some sweet cola and vanilla. Full-bodied with structured but velvety tannins – some medium acidity helps. Black cherry, blueberry, blackberry jam, the fruit is rich and loaded but not baked. Lots of pepper, soy, scorched earth notes to bounce off the dark roast coffee, roasted chestnut, cinnamon sticks and clove notes. Rich and generous but complex and very interesting. Curious to see how this ages of four or five years. Aged in 6% new French oak and the rest old French and American oak. (90 points)
SRP: $36 Deep purple color. Smells dark and juicy with blackberries, plums and roasted figs along with smoky bacon, beef brisket and pepper. Medium-plus-bodied (13.5% alcohol) with rounded edges on the tannins and some freshness from the acidity. Plums, blackberries and blueberries, the fruit is ripe but stays tart. Notes of smoke, graphite, earth, clove and sweet coffee add complexity. Pretty, bold but vibrant as well, a bit more freshness than the Angel's Share Shiraz. Aged 12 months in 15% new French oak. (90 points)
SRP: $69 Medium purple color. Aromatically rich but air and time coaxes out all sorts of nuance. Black cherry and blueberry fruit is lush and juicy, topped in notes of mint, dark chocolate, deep violets, potting soil, coffee and fruit cake. Obviously full-bodied, the tannins frame the wine nicely but the mouthfeel is velvety, medium-low acidity. Mouthfeel is absolutely gorgeous. Black cherry, blueberry sauce and plum cake, dark but suave fruit, backed up by notes of roasted chestnut, campfire pit, but also some lovely violet, rich earth and roasted herb notes. I get this really cool mix of beef bouillon and black pepper. Dark and bold and age-worthy but full of life and pretty elements, even at this young age. Aged 18 months in 6% new French oak. (93 points)
SRP: $69 Medium purple color. Lots of inky fruit on the nose (blueberry, boysenberry, black cherry), needs more time to open up but shows roasted coffee, loamy soil, dark chocolate and graphite. Mouth-filling texture, still velvety tannins but a bit chewier than Lilly’s Garden, medium-low acidity. Black cherry and dark, concentrated blueberry extract coats the palate. Scorched earth, coffee, dark chocolate, pencil shavings, loads of complex elements, and underneath there’s a delicious black olive streak needs time to come out. This will get far more nuanced with five to six years and continue to be delicious for longer. Aged 18 months in French oak (16% new). (91 points)
SRP: $185 Gorgeous, vibrant purple color. The purity and complexity of fruit aromas is really astounding: boysenberry, blueberry, black cherry, juicy summer plums, the fruit is so vibrant, but it’s mixed in with waves of coffee, sweet violets, sarsaparilla, mint, dark chocolate. Full-bodied on the palate, serious grip to the tannins, the acidity is a bit low for my liking but it still holds it together. This is a velvety, voluptuous wines that coats the palate without feeling too heavy (despite the 15.5% alcohol). Same complexity of juicy blue and black fruit abounds on the palate. Gorgeous fruit! Notes of anise, coffee, mint, violets, loamy soil, graphite, dark chocolate shavings — so much complexity to unpack here over the next decade but this is a beautiful young Ares. Aged 23 months in French oak (last year in all new). (94+ points)
SRP: $14 Pale lemon color. Aromas of juicy peaches, nectarines, candied lime, hints of salted almond and honeysuckle. Light-bodied (11.5% alcohol) with zesty acidity, this is a bright and lip-smacking wine. Tangy limes, apricots, zesty and tart but interesting with its perfumed, honeyed notes. Lingering minerality and salinity on the finish. Delicious now but I’m curious to see how this ages. (87 points)
SRP: $14 Medium yellow color. Aromas of juicy yellow apples blend with honey, almond, some brighter floral tones. Plump and juicy texture on the palate but fresh acidity. White peach, baked apple, almond paste, toasted bread, honey, a lot of delicious flavors but the wine maintains an impressive amount of vibrancy and balance. This has a lot to offer for people all over the Chardonnay palate spectrum. (87 points)
SRP: $18 Juicy purple color. Aromas of smoky blackberry and dark currants, spicy peppered steak, and sweet clove and vanilla. On the palate, this is full-bodied with moderate tannins and medium/low acidity. Tart blackberries and blueberry fruit plays well with savory spice and peppered jerky notes, along with some toast and vanilla. Really good stuff if you like some pepper and meat in your Shiraz. Easy-drinking and pleasurable but shows some guts and near-term aging potential. Aged 12-15 months in French and American oak. This wine comes from a site in West Oz purchased in 2000. (88 points)
SRP: $15 Deep purple color. Aromas of smoky black cherries and roasted plums, along with charcoal, grilled herbs and leather notes. Medium-bodied with silky and approachable tannins and medium acid. Flavors of tart blueberry and roasted plum mix nicely with leather and charcoal notes. Rounded out with some wood and vanilla. A tasty, crowd-pleasing, near-term drinker. Aged in new and used French oak for 13 months. (86 points)