Saturday, October 15, 2016

Picture Series Wines Provide Great Intro to Australia's Two Hands

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 from the likes of Wine Spectator

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to taste a whole lot of Two Hands wines, from a decade-old Ares Shiraz (their flagship bottling) to the delightful and fun Brilliant Disguise Moscato. The wines are all expertly made and delicious. I can’t think of an outlier.

This month, I’m tasting through a half-dozen Two Hands wines through
Protocol's #winestudio, a Twitter-based wine education program run by Tina Morey. This was my first foray into this program, and it’s fitting that we’re focused on such a reputable producer.

Founders Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz kicked off the project in 1999 as a negociant firm, purchasing quality grapes from select sites around South Australia. Their first vintage was 2000. Since then, Two Hands has purchased its own vineyards and producers a wide array of wines. They’re a perennial competitor in the all sorts of Top Ten lists from major wine publications. Even among people who don’t generally like Australian wine, Two Hands is revered.

We started off tasting three wines from Two Hands'
Picture Series along with winemaker Ben Perkins. "For many, the Picture Series is the introduction to Two Hands, so our first mission is to over deliver on quality," Two Hands says on its website. "The winemaking technique and effort that goes into making a Gnarly Dudes or Angels’ Share is no different to the higher tiers of the portfolio, so these are still serious wines, with a focus on purity of fruit and sensory pleasure."

The wines feature playful names and stylish vintage photograph labels. And, considering the popularity of this producer, these wines come with relatively accessible price points.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2015 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Sexy Beast - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
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) 

2014 Two Hands Shiraz Angels Share - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
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)

2014 Two Hands Shiraz Gnarly Dudes - Australia, South Australia, Barossa Valley
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)

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