Ignore the echo chamber. Australia makes amazing wine. Yet more than a decade has passed since “critter wines” tanked Australia’s image and sales internationally. And still customers cling to herd mentality and scoff at them. Restaurant and shop owners share blame too, claiming they cannot sell them.
The key: take a break from buying $10 wine and expecting it to change your world. Disappointment usually follows. Spend what you would on any great bottle.
Two Hands, Shiraz, Bella’s Garden, Barossa Valley, Australia 2013 $45-$62
Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz founded Two Hands Winery in 1999 to only make high-end Shiraz: no koalas, no wallabies, no fish, no kangaroos, no overcropped vineyards, nor cheats like barrel staves, tartaric acid, or oak powder.
Their Bella’s Garden comes from great Shiraz sites across the Barossa Valley. Two fermentations: 80% destemmed grapes with pump-overs and 20% with stems, 14 days of skin contact, 24 hours on the lees. It ages 18 months in French oak hogsheads and puncheons, with 17% in new and the remainder in older oak.
Does all this extra effort matter?
The APPEARANCE looks an inky yet clear, ruby-rimmed, leggy thing.
AROMAS burn clean with flint, dried tobacco, a crush of blueberry, pomegranate, and a heady, fruity, highland whisky note hovers.
The PALATE feels dry, dense, and richly textured. Enough acidity clicks along and flinty, cedar-like tannins ratchet it up. The alcohol burns like coals. Yet smoothness pervades.
Black fruit and toasted oak clash and meld into a dense, complex mix. But the gorgeous fat line of boysenberry syrup carries into a tidy, mineral finish.
Two Hands, Bella’s Garden Shiraz is outstanding stuff (5 of 5). It will stay packed like this for a decade or more.
I do not like decanting wine. The immediate gratification feels cheap. I enjoy opening it and finding this wound youth packed in there. Then let it evolve over an evening, sipping, pairing, then cap it and revisit it the next day. Like layers of strata, wine deserves digging thoroughly. Because Bella’s Garden needs that patience. It shows best after a few evenings open.
So give Australia a real chance. It deserve it.