October’s #WineStudio set sail for Australia last week, under the stewardship of Tina Morey of Protocol Wine Studio and the folks at Two Hands Wines of Australia (McLaren Vale and Barossa, to be specific.) By all accounts it’s shaping up to be quite an adventure, with tastings representing each of the winery’s three tiers: the Picture Series, Garden Series, and Flagship Series. If you want to learn more about this exciting excursion into the Two Hands portfolio, join the discussion Tuesday evenings at 9 pm eastern. You can follow the conversation on Twitter using #WineStudio. Feel free to jump in and share your own experience with these wines or to ask a question of the winemakers. Just remember to append #WineStudio to your tweets, so the group can see your comment and respond to it.
For the past two weeks I’ve tuned in to a bit of the live chat, catching all the oohs and aahs expressed by my fellow wine enthusiasts. Apparently these wines were not just good, but VERY good. And on top of that, they seemed to put everyone in a jolly mood. These were FUN wines! As Michael Twelftree, founder of Two Hands said during the first chat, “The best wine is the one that everyone is drinking.” Or something to that effect. Pretty right on, I think.
So, when Hurricane Matthew forced my husband and me to flee north for a while, I took advantage of the opportunity to skulk around a few wine shops in New York City – a wealth of options compared to my usual offerings at home. Wending my way through the stacks at Mr. Wright Fine Wines I found myself face-to-face with the Sexy Beast. Two Hands Wines’ Sexy Beast, that is – a sexy hunk of Cabernet Sauvignon from McLaren Vale. I have to admit I was curious. It had been a while since I’d spent any time with a Cab from Australia, and I wasn’t sure I could find a steak big enough to spar with it at the dinner table. But something in the back of my mind challenged me to re-examine my preconceptions. Another Sexy Beast.
Have you ever seen the movie Sexy Beast starring Ben Kingsley? I understand if you haven’t – I doubt if it’s cracked the most-watched list in his repertoire. But surely you remember him in Gandhi, a role for which he was rightly praised and celebrated? Well, how can I say this – Sexy Beast is NOT Gandhi! Kingsley’s role couldn’t be more dramatically different. He plays a crime boss named Don Logan, who travels to the south of Spain to convince/coerce Gal, a retired robber, to participate in one more heist. He’s awful, more of a tyrannical toddler throwing a tantrum in the grocery store than the peace-loving activist of Gandhi. But that is what’s so awesome about it!
So, back to the wine. Thinking about how Don Logan was worlds apart from Gandhi made me think I ought to keep my mind open about Australian Cab. Maybe I would be pleasantly surprised. I picked up the Two Hands Sexy Beast and practically skipped home to load the DVD player and pour myself a glass. Don Logan and I were going to spend some time with the other Sexy Beast and see what was what.
A quick pour revealed the deep, dense ruby red color I was expecting. And the initial aromas from the glass were all the juicy blackberry and currants I had anticipated. But there was a hint of something floral, and then a whiff of cedar, and then, and then, and then . . . . On the palate the wine was focused, with plenty of that black fruit on the nose, and a little licorice spice on the finish. But – here’s the kicker – it was nimble, agile, and light, dancing with acidity that kept all that exuberant fruit in check. It was elegant. Elegant. Not a word I’d have used in the past to describe a typical Aussie Cab. As it turns out, this Sexy Beast was more Gandhi than Don Logan. What a nice surprise!
2014 Two Hands Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon; Fleurieu, McLaren Vale ($30.99 retail)
The many parcels making up this wine were crushed into and fermented in open top vessels, with regular pump overs (three daily over peak fermentation) to extract colour, flavour and tannins. Average time ‘on skins’ was 14 days. The batches were then drained and pressed to tank and then racked to barrel for oak maturation.
Aging: 15% new Taransaud French oak hogsheads. Remainder in one- to five-year-old French oak hogsheads.