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Wine Review: Australian wines make a comeback

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It has been quite a long time since Australian wines have been on our shores in any quantity.

Unfortunately, Australia has been devastated by years of severe drought, which has curtailed the growing of grapes and, thus, the making of wine. Unyielding heat has taken its toll, too, but the wine grape-growing vineyards in south-central Australia have overcome these catastrophic difficulties and continued to produce quality fruit.

There still are some excellent wines coming out of Australia; those from Two Hands Wines are among the best. Not only are the wines good, but there also is a little of the typical Australian tongue-in-cheek humor on each label.

Two Hands Gnarly Dudes 2018 Barossa Valley Shiraz ($30)
Shiraz has become Australia's hallmark wine, making it the most popular red wine "down under." Like our zinfandel, shiraz is an easy-to-drink, easy-to-like red wine that goes well with most of today’s popular foods. The bottle is embossed and the closure is a screw top — as are all other Two Hands beverages. Before you turn up your nose at the screw top on a red wine, they have been found to be a better and safer closure than the traditional cork; they do not rot or dry out. The name Gnarly Dudes does not indicate this wine is for hobos, tramps or bums (swagman to the Aussies) but rather a friendly reference to the gnarly vines that produced this fine wine. The color of Gnarly Dudes is a deep red that announces a huge aroma centering on blueberry, licorice and eucalyptus, all held together by a light dusting of oak. On the palate, the wine concentrates on dark summer berries and plum with undertones of red berries. There is oak, derived from oak-barrel aging, but it is present in modest, dignified amounts. The finish is long, fruity and memorable.

Two Hands Angels' Share 2018 McLaren Vale Shiraz ($30)
This wine is another song on the same theme. The name Angels’ Share refers to an ancient term that is still used today to account for the wine and alcohol that evaporates while the wine is aging in barrels. Shiraz is a grape variety that bellows its Australian heritage; this particular shiraz is a fine example of what both the grape and Australian winemakers can do. The color is dark ruby with the aroma offering the scents of ripe blueberries and, of course, oak. The flavor continues with the addition of a spicy element in the background. This is a well-balanced wine that can serve as an accompaniment to meat, fish and cheese dishes.

Two Hands Sexy Beast McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon ($30)
Cabernet sauvignon wines are probably the most controversial and criticized wines in the world. So, if one falls flat on its face in the marketplace, it can ruin a winery and its reputation for a very long time — as well as that of the person who recommended it. Both Two Hands and I have little to fear with this entrant into the super competitive premium cab market. This is a wine that not only reflects the charms and beauties that have made the variety famous but everything that one seeks in a better cabernet sauvignon. The Two Hands Sexy Beast also rises to heights that only the best can achieve. It is a bold wine that displays the traditional aromas of redcurrant, blackberry, plum and oak, along with the noticeable background flavors of fine spice and mint. The aftertaste is long, extremely complex and, to say the least, interesting. True cab lovers may read this with a bit of skepticism because when they lay down their money, they’re often disappointed. That’s not the case here.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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