Sunday, October 19, 2008

Report from ... Two Hands Plus Tasting - October 2, 2008

As someone who spends a fair amount of time in wine cellars I see quite a bit of good wine that I’ll probably never get to drink. I've seen 1900 D’Yquem, LaTour and LaFite. I've seen Mouton Rothschild dating back to the forties and Madeira’s whose dating started with the numbers “18…” ... I sometimes tell my friends, “it's like going to a strip club - you can look but you can't sample.” So when I was offered a chance to taste wines from one of Australian’s newest "hot wineries" (Two Hands) I jumped at the opportunity. Serious collectors’, who dabble even a little in Australian wines, will always have at least a few bottles of Two Hands wines. I've tasted what has come through the LCBO over the years, but rarely do I get the chance to try them side-by-each and to get a full feel of the entire line.

Today, Mark Cuff, wine agent for the Living Vine, hosted this intimate gathering at the Fine Wine Reserve - turns out he was doing a little favour for the actual agent B & W Wines. 23 wines were poured, a majority (12) from the Two Hands Winery. I liked everyone, from the 5 "Garden" series wines to the multitude of shirazes and blends available, and each wine (minus the Moscato) hovered around the fifteen percent alcohol mark. Thankfully I had a long way to stumble back home afterward; which was needed to clear my booze addled brain – even without swallowing all that alcohol can get to you. I also see why these wines are so sought after.

In the "Garden” Shiraz series (priced from $50 to $65), which includes (in my order of preference): Lily’s Garden; Sophie's Garden; Harry and Edward’s Garden; Bella’s Garden; and Max's Garden were all big on fruit and classic Shiraz character (like pepper and dark fruit) - yet each added their own distinctiveness to the wines. Lily was minty sweet fruit; Sophie added chocolate; Harry and Ed scaled back the fruit and replaced it with more white pepper; Bella was big into herbs and Max added menthol and pine needles to his mix.

Another favorite was the 2007 ‘Angels Share’ ($27.95), which is classic Oz Shiraz, chocolate, blackberry, white pepper and a sweet taste that just kept on lingering, like that party guests that won't leave your home – though in truth you don't want him to because you don't want the party to end, with this wine you don’t want the bottle to end.

‘The Bull and the Bear’ (Shiraz/Cabernet - $50.00), ‘Brave Faces’ (Shiraz / Grenache / Matero - $35.00) and ‘Gnarly Dudes’ (Shiraz - $27.95) all impressed with their variety of fruit (red and black), chocolate notes (mint, dark, bittersweet, milk), pepper (white and black) and varying levels of alcohol (in order: 15.6%, 15%, 14.8%). This made the very grapey, floral, perfumey and elegant Moscato "Brilliant Disguise” a welcome palate-relief at only 7% - and also very tasty.

Finally, the piece-de-rĂ©sistance were poured; the single vineyard Shirazes: "Coach House Block” ($46.00) with its blackberry, cherry, chocolate, and floral flavors and smells that simply smoothed out in the mouth and demanded another sip. This wine laid the groundwork for the outstanding monster known as "Ares” ($100). The nose was black and red cherry with a touch of mint, but the taste was even better, “See’s chocolate buttered toffee crisp” with a peppered mint finish ... wow!

Three other wines I enjoyed were (not from Two Hands):

Five Oaks 2005 ‘SGS’ Cabernet Sauvignon ($52.95 – Australia) – it’s nose was a turnoff, but the palate more than made up for it with spicy black fruit, blueberries and chocolate.

Glaymond 2005 Grenache ‘Gerhard’ ($47.95 – Australia) - a sweet and sour sensation of complexity, with mint, blackberries and peppercorns.

Glaymond 2004 Shiraz ‘Distinction’ ($126.00 – Australia) – 16% alcohol, peppers and spices, nice balance of wood to fruit to chocolate to smoothness with a biting spicy finish your tongue will most certainly enjoy this one.

No comments: