Wine Reviews: Two Hands Shiraz

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 09-24-2022

Syrah is my favorite grape, and I love all of its great iterations.

In a world of increasing uncertainty and change, I find Two Hands wines to be refreshingly reliable. I first tried Two Hands in 2007 or so, and I was a newb and venturing into more “serious” bottles while trying to spend my money wisely. That’s when I tasted some of Two Hands’ Australian Shiraz, and I was hooked. A few years later, I shared a 2002 Ares Shiraz with friends, and the experience was exquisite. It was such a memorable, singular bottle and time that I became a life-long fan.

That said, it had actually been a while since I opened a Two Hands wines, so I was excited to attend a virtual tasting with co-founder Michael Twelftree. When he and his co-founder decided in 1999 to pursue making great Aussie Shiraz and marketing it to the world, I wonder if they imagined it would turn out so well. As a lover and student of wine, I respect this winery’s approach, from the consistency and quality of the wine (of course – that’s first), to the diverse range they produce, to the whimsical yet meaningful names, the label design and marketing. It seems like a team that take their work very seriously, but not themselves too seriously.

Coming from a background in construction, Michael fell in love with wine at an in-store tasting (just like me) and said, “this magical world of wine unfolded before me.” He continued: “We are always trying to think of everything we do through the consumer’s perspective.” Its a stated goal that rings true to me, as a consumer of these wines.

A long-time player in the U.S. market, he also acknowledged it can be difficult to convey regional differences in Australia, from the purple-fruited but coastal-influenced McLaren Vale wines to the deeper, more concentrated juice from Barossa. But the more time you spend with these wines, especially when tasting them together, those regional nuances and signatures start to become evident. While I drink far more Syrah from France and the U.S., I love that Two Hands consistently provides Shiraz (and other wines), that speak so eloquently of their place.

While the winery has expanded to acquire new sites in recent years, I found the same quality and vibrancy in this recent tasting that I remember from years and years ago. The alcohol is kept in check, which makes these wines lively and refreshing, and the oak is also used sparingly and efficiently. If you’ve never tried Two Hands, or if you’re of the opinion Australian wines just aren’t for you anymore, I’d urge you to reconsider. As long as this crew continues doing what they’re doing, there will always be a welcome spot on this Cornas-lover’s table for Two Hands wines.

These wines (all 100% Shiraz) were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2020 Two Hands Shiraz Angels’ Share – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $44
Concentrated purple color with a gorgeous nose of plum cake, blueberries, blackberries, doused in anise, black pepper, scorched earth, mint and cocoa – and the mix is really pleasurable. Full but smooth on the palate with chewy tannins, lively acidity, well-balanced. The fruit is ripe but nuanced and complex, with blackberries, blueberries, plum compote, mixed with interesting notes of black pepper glaze, anise, soy, sauteed mushrooms and earth. The depth is really nice but I really enjoy the refreshing and accessible feel as well. Aged 14 months in 12% new French oak, 14.2% alcohol. (90 points IJB)

2020 Two Hands Shiraz Gnarly Dudes – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $49
Deep purple. Tart but deep fruit on the nose (currants and blueberries), along with complexities of violet petals, clove and black pepper. The palate is structured well with smooth-edged tannins and a tart, crunchy appeal to set the stage for the juicy blueberry and dark plum fruit. Tar, violets, pepper, roasted herbs, smoked meats, but really fresh and lively throughout. Juicy but lip-smacking, this is a delightful Shiraz that should hold up nicely as well. Aged 12 months in 13% new French oak, 14% alcohol. (91 points IJB)

2018 Two Hands Shiraz Bella’s Garden – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $79
Vibrant purple color. Deep and smoky on the nose, with a mix of tart blueberries and black currants, laced with potting soil, scorched earth, eucalyptus and mint, rocky-graphite tones. The palate shows smooth but structured tannins, balanced acidity, and plenty of tart plum, blueberry fruit and black currants, everything lines up really well together. Complexities of tar, chewing tobacco, beef brisket, pepper, paprika – there’s so much nuanced savory goodness in here. Finishes with spiced black tea and violets. Really beautiful stuff that is drinking great right now. Aged 17 months in 13% new French oak, 13.8% alcohol. (93 points IJB)

2018 Two Hands Shiraz Lily’s Garden – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $79
Gorgeous purple color. The layers of fruit on the nose are so enticing, with juicy black cherries, dark plums and wild blueberries, along with complex spiced tea, tar, violets, rose petals and earthy-clay tones. The palate is so lively and crisp, which keeps this wine racing forward, and it’s balanced with deep but tart fruit (black cherries, currants, dark plums), and a bed of smooth tannins. The spiced tea, rose petals, tar, black pepper and bacon tones are vibrant and nuanced. The elegance here is really something, and while this is already strutting its stuff, I’d love to see this in four years or so. Aged 17 months in 13% new French oak, 13.8% alcohol. (94 points IJB)

2020 Two Hands Shiraz ‘Yacca Block’ Mengler’s Hill – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
SRP: $110
Deep purple color. Gorgeous nose of deep blueberry and tangy black cherry, laced with complex notes of mesquite, clay soil, black pepper, violet potpourri, clove and cinnamon, and just an airy and inviting appeal despite the depth and concentration. Full-bodied, nice concentration, vibrant acidity, the balance is delightful, long-aging but a lot to show. Tart blueberries and juicy blackberry fruit, so deep but fresh, and a lot else to unpack: black pepper, tar, violets, smoky earth and eucalyptus tones. This will age wonderfully, but a vibrant, beautiful Shiraz. From a higher elevation site in Eden Valley, this is aged 12 months in 20% new French oak (95 points IJB)

2020 Two Hands Shiraz ‘Coach House Block’ Seppeltsfield Road, Greenock – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $110
Concentrated purple color. The nose on this is really rocking and spicy, with these beefy, smoked sausage, black pepper, anise and paprika tones over top waves of tangy blueberries and black cherries. The palate has great grip and structure but the acidity sings, and the balance is on-point. A tart core of blueberries and blackberries, gorgeous fruit, mixed with complexities of leather, tar, anise, menthol and graphite. Hints of cocoa and smoked meat round out the finish. Concentrated but beautiful Barossa goodness, give this air and or five to eight years, but it’s a special one. Aged 12 months in 20% new French oak. (94 points IJB)

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