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Wine Review: Australian wines make a comeback

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It has been a while since quality Australian wines have graced our store shelves or appeared on the internet in any quantity. A crippling drought, coupled with high heat from global warming, plagued Australian wine grape growers and vintners for the past several years.

The country’s wine grape regions are located in southeastern Australia and are, under normal conditions, blessed with a Mediterranean-type climate, more than adequate rainfall and cooling winds blowing up from the South Pole – perfect for growing wine grapes. In recent years, that cooling wind just wasn’t there, nor was the rain. The result is vines struggled.

It took some brilliant maneuvering and imaginative engineering to not only make wine but also to save the vines. It was that “never give up” attitude of the Aussies that persevered over these dreadful conditions and still produced wines that are more than worthy of consideration.

It is a known fact that stressed vines produce the best grapes. Over the past few years, Australian vines were stressed, big time. The old adage that we learn from our misfortunes also has proven to be true, and I am here and now informing you that Australian wines are back and better than ever.

The wines I sampled are from Two Hands Wines and, in typical Australian tongue-in-cheek humor, they gave the beverages names that you will not quickly forget. I will add that I am happy to see Australian wines have survived their climatic ordeal and are back on dealers’ shelves.

Two Hands 2018 Sexy Beast McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon ($35)
Cabernet sauvignon wines are probably the most competitive and criticized wines in the world, and if one falls flat on its face in the marketplace, it could ruin the winery's reputation. The Two Hands Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon has little to worry about in that department as this wine is truly a premium beverage. It not only reflects the quality that Australian wines can achieve but highlights the heights that they can reach. This is a big, bold wine that showcases blueberry, blackberry and plum, with noticeable background flavors of fine spice mint and oak. The aftertaste is long and, to say the least, complex and enjoyable. While this cabernet sauvignon will be compared and judged by those of other countries, it is the depth and richness of Australian-grown grapes that stand out.

Two Hands 2018 Gnarly Dudes Barossa Valley Shiraz ($35)
Shiraz is the Australian name for the syrah grape, which produces wine of such great depth and quality. This shiraz is a wine that displays the depth and quality of Australian grapes. The color is a dark ruby with an aroma offering the scents of ripe dark summer berries, cherries and, of course, oak. The flavor continues the berry/cherry with the addition of a spicy element and oak in the background. This is a well-balanced wine that can serve as an accompaniment to a wide variety of meat dishes, especially those “off the barbie.”

Two Hands 2020 Angels' Share McLaren Vale Shiraz ($35)
I believe that an explanation of the name is necessary before continuing. For centuries, the phrase “angels’ share” has been used to explain the loss in volume of cognac and armagnac while being aged in wooden barrels. It was believed that angels were watching over and protecting the brandies and took a small portion for their efforts. One must admit that “angels’ share” sounds more romantic than plain-old evaporation. While the name may be questionable, the wine most certainly is not. The flavors are strong and rich, accenting blueberries, blackcurrants, dried cherries, pepper and the spiciness that the variety is noted for. The wine also is blessed with a long and a full-flavored finish. This wine could best be classified as an Australian gem and a perfect ambassador for Australian wines.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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