Alliance Wines
Portfolio Tasting
Vinopolis, London
12th September 2005


Two Hands Wines – Barossa

Two Hands was founded in 1999 by Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz (the two hands).  Their first vintage was the 2000, when they started with seventeen tonnes of fruit from McLaren Vale and Padthaway.  They are based in the Barossa Valley: their visitor centre and winery is in Marananga, though the main winery is at Greenock.  They are essentially negociant-consultants: their core philosophy is to source "the best fruit from the best Shiraz vineyards in Australia", working closely with the growers to "achieve the full potential of each individual site".  Though, as will be evident from the wines tasted below, they haven't limited themselves to Shiraz.

All wines are made in small batches, with total production limited to 20,000 cases so that they can retain the cachet of a small boutique producer.  They aim to make wines where the fruit is the main feature, with oak playing a supporting role.  Nice labels and a lot of the wines are bottled under Stelvin screwcaps rather than using more unreliable corks.

Picture Series

2004 The Wolf, Clare Valley Riesling, 15%
The wine underwent a long, slow fermentation at around 13°C in stainless steel, followed by cold and heat stabilisation, fining and filtering before bottling.  A ripe limey riesling nose.  Bit dull.  OK

2004 Canny Butcher, McLaren Vale Grenache, 15%
A really bright nose with lots of ripe fruit.  Very, very young tasting and weirdly back to front with lots of tannins on the attack, but with more fruit on the finish.  Good.

2004 Angel’s Share, McLaren Vale Shiraz, 15%
A fairly basic shiraz nose.  Ripe fruit throughout the palate.  Soft tannins on the finish along with loads of peppery spice.  Very Good.

2004 Gnarly Dudes, Barossa Valley Shiraz, 15%
Good, fresh shiraz nose.  Light and fruity with decent concentration.  A bit simple.  Very Good.

2003 Brave Faces, Barossa Valley Shiraz/Grenache, 15%
65% Shiraz; 35% Grenache.
A really nice nose, with deep, plummy fruit.  Really nice in the mouth with a balance of good fruit and an earthy green hedgerow freshness.  Very Good Indeed.

2004 Bad Impersonator, Single Vineyard, Barossa Valley Shiraz, 14.5%
Rather elegant nose.  Really meaty and chewy in the mouth – very savoury.  Great power and length.  Very Good Indeed+.

2003 The Bull & Bear, Barossa Valley Shiraz/Cabernet, 14.5%
55% Shiraz; 45% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sweet cassis nose.  Lovely balance.  Very elegant with a clean purity of fruit that’s very impressive.  Very Good Indeed+.

2005 Brilliant Disguise, Barossa Valley Moscato Bianco, 50cl, 6.5%
100% white frontignac.  Glorious muscat nose.  This is a really nice moscato d’Asti.  Very Good Indeed.

2004 For Love or Money, Barossa Valley Cane Cut Semillon, 11%
After hand-pruning half the canes, the fruit was left to hand for 4-8 weeks, and was picked in four separate tries between late March and May.  Fermented in new French oak hogsheads, where it then matured for a further 6-7 months.
Mid gold appearance.  A gorgeous nose – really creamy.  Beautiful palate.  Light, fresh and largely excellent.

Garden Series

2004 Edward and Harry’s Garden, Langhorne Creek Shiraz, 15.5%
Quite an elegant nose with a touch of violet perfume.  Very ripe fruit on the palate.  Big stuff, but not overpowerful.  Very Good +

2004 Max’s Garden, Heathcote Shiraz, 14.5%
A noticeably blacker, darker purple than the next two.  Very sweet nose – a touch confected.  Good palate with very, very ripe flavours.  A bit over the top.  Very Good.

2003 Lily’s Garden, McLaren Vale Shiraz, 15.5%
Very precise nose with warm ripe fruit – you might even presume there was a bit of cabernet in it.  Ripe and rather jammy on the attack.  Doesn’t really develop or live up to the promise of the nose.  Very Good.

2003 Bella’s Garden, Barossa Valley Shiraz, 15%
"We have spent much time over the past four years attempting to understand the Barossa and her different terroirs.  Bella's is a tribute to that pursuit."  They go in for this sort of marketing speak at Two Hands (reading their website makes you reach for the sick bucket ...)   What that appears to mean is that - in contrast to what a name like "Bella's Garden" would, with its suggestion of single plot, have you believe - this is a blend of Shiraz from four separate growers and sixteen different vineyards. Super-concentrated nose with a touch of marshmallow.  Very ripe fruit, but it avoids jamminess.  Very concentrated flavours.  Very Good Indeed.


2004 Sauvignon Blanc, Stoney Vineyards, Domaine A, Tasmania
An incredibly strong asparagus nose.  Quite a powerful wine.  Really well-made with beautiful balance and great depth.  Excellent.

Familia Zuccardi and their Santa Rosa Estate, Mendoza, Argentina

2004 Vida Organica Sparkling, 13%
100% Chardonnay from organically grown grapes. An even, biscuity nose.  Full, dry and with good fruit, but there’s a bit of a harsh structure.  Good/Very Good.

2004 Vida Organica Chenin Blanc
A dullish nose.  Nice round flavours.  Unexciting.  Good.

2004 Vida Organica Bonarda Sangiovese, 12.5%
50% bonarda, 50% sangiovese.  The two varieties are vinified separately in stainless steel.
A lovely warm, fruity nose with cherries and peach kernels.  Round, clean and fresh.  Really, very nice, easy drinking with some good interest.  Very Good Indeed.

2004 Chenin Chardonnay
Good, attractive nose with a good perfume.  Attractive and well balanced palate.   Nice, clean, precise.  Very Good.

2004 Tempranillo Bonarda
A curious muddy nose that’s light and inoffensive.  Good easy drinking. Nice character.  Very Good.

2004 Pinot Grigio
A light, gentle nose.  Quite full on the palate with a richness that grows.  Fairly simple though.  Very Good.

2004 Viognier
Quite a slight nose with just a touch of almonds and butter.  Very attractive with nice balance and length.  Very good after.  Very Good Indeed.

2004 Textual Caladoc Red, Familia Zuccardi
A very interesting nose – ripe and warm: quite almondy with a touch of orange peel.  Creamy chocolate attack.  Powerful flavours with some spicy tannins on the finish.  Very interesting.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Malbec Reserva, Familia Zuccardi, 14%
Nice warm redcurrants on the nose.  Bit of a basic straightforward Argentinean malbec.  Well made, faultless, but lacks character.  Very Good +.

2002 Malmado Red Liqueur Wine, Familia Zuccardi
A fortified malbec (19% abv): the grapes are crushed a classically fermented with remontage, delestage and pigeage for ten days with selected yeasts until the wine achieves a residual sugar of 120 g/l.  Then the wine is fortified with wine alcohol and aged in French oak for 25 months. 
Vaguely portlike nose, but with a slightly fresher feel with green fragrance.  Really nice and smooth.  Loads of character and subtly different to port with some malbec character showing through.  Very Good Indeed +.

2002 Q Tempranillo, Familia Zuccardi
100% tempranillo from Zuccardi's Santa Rosa vineyards.  Matured in medium-toast American oak barrels for 12 months. 
A fairly concentrated nose, possibly a bit lacking in tempranillo character.  Very tannic and young.  Powerful stuff.  Huge structure – a big, brooding wine.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Sankt Laurent Qba, Weingut Norbert Bauer, Weinviertel, Austria
Strawberry and cherry nose.  Good, light, round fruity flavours.  Simple, yet it has a certain elegance.  Very Good +.

2004 Grüner Veltliner Qba ‘Cremisia’, Stadt Krems, Kremstal, Austria
Light and inoffensive on the nose.  Good balance and depth on the palate.  Very attractive with white pepper spice.  Very Good Indeed.

2004 Riesling ‘Grillenparz’ Stadt Krems, Kremstal, Austria
A very austere, pure, riesling nose.  Very pure, bone-dry riesling with great minerality and freshness.  Very Good Indeed.

2004 Lugana DOC Le Fornaci, Tommasi
After careful selection of the Trebbiano di Lugana grapes from the Le Fornaci vineyard in Lugana, they spend 7 days fermenting in stainless steel tanks followed by 5 months maturation in stainless steel tanks.
A watery pale gold.  Very interesting nose – lightly herbaceous with a buttery, toasty background.  Very nice attack – quite rich and full with nice, creamy roundness.  Lovely balance.  Very interesting.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, Tommasi
A pretty basic Amarone.  Decent structure and good elegance, but unsatisfying.  OK.

2004 Pinot Grigio IGT Delle Venezie, Villa Brunesca
A fairly basic pinot gris nose.  A bit hard.  Unimpressive.  OK.

1998 Barbaresco DOCG, Fratelli Casetta
Lovely perfumed nose with cherry kernels and apricot kernels.  Quite dried and tannic.  I still don’t get Barbaresco.  Very Good (+?)

1999 Rioja Reserva Especial ‘Amarén’, Bodegas Luis Canas
A powerful, quite tarry nose with ripe fruit.  Young and pure.  Nice depth of character.  Interesting.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Hiru 3 Racimos, Bodegas Luis Canas
This is the top of the range Rioja from Luis Canas, made from 100% tempranillo from 60+ old vines., with low yields of three bunches (“tres racimos”) per vine. Aged for 18 months in new French oak.
Wow!  What a nose – glorious, lovely rich depths.  Very rich attack – there’s almost a syrupy weight to it.  Very big and powerful.  Possibly and bit overcooked and over the top.  Very Good.

2002 Giné Giné, Buil & Giné, Priorat
A blend of grenache and carignan from the districts of Bellmunt, Gratallops, La Vilella Baixa, El Molar, La Vilella Alta, El Lloar and Torroja. Around half the grapes come from new vines, and around half from old vines.
A lovely, vibrant, fragrant nose reminiscent of a Rivesaltes vin doux.  Very much a let down on the palate, where it’s all just a bit ordinary.  Very well made though – just dull.  Very Good.

Quinta de Ventozelo

Quinta de Ventozelo is an old established quinta, dating back to 1806, at the heart of the Cima Corgo, overlooking Pinhão.  Like a number of Douro quintas, for most of their history they had supplied grapes and finished ports in bulk to the large port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia.  In 1999, the quinta was acquired by the Spanish company, Grupo Proinsa, who have begun selling the wines, both table wines and ports, under the quinta's own label.

The Quinta covers some 600 hectares going down to the river Douro for more than a mile.  200 hectares are under vines, all with "A" classification.  A prime, ten hectare plot is planted with 100-year old vines, used for the premium table wines and the vintage ports.  The composition of the vineyards is as follows: 17.6% Tinta Roriz 16.2% Touriga Franca 11.1% Tinta Barroca 9.1% Touriga Nacional 6.3% Tinta Amarela 5% Tinto Cão 5% Old Vines 4.6% Sousão 25.1% Other varieties (Tinta Francisca, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah...).  The old vines are planted in the old-fashioned narrow terraces with stone retaining walls.  Other areas are being converted into the wider patamares type terraces to facilitate mechanisation.

Grapes for port are still trodden in traditional lagares, while the Douro DOC table wines are made in a modern winery in Adega da Cruz, where they currently have eleven 25,000 hl stainless steel tanks, all temperature controlled.  Annual production is in the order of a million bottles of table wine and 500,000 bottles of ports.  A vintage port has been made every year since 1998.

Their website is at

Unfortunately, I had very little time to taste these, so the notes are much briefer than normal.

2003 Touriga Nacional Tinto, Quinta de Ventozelo
Very dark colour.  Lovely chocolatey, porty nose.  Really smooth.  Beautifully made.  Nice length.  Very Good Indeed.

NV 10 Year old Tawny Port, Quinta de Ventozelo
Very smooth and rounded.  Good.

2000 Late Bottled Vintage Port, Quinta de Ventozelo
An unfiltered LBV.  Very Good Indeed+

1999 Quinta de Ventozelo Vintage Port
Touch spirity on the nose.  Very Good.

2000 Quinta de Ventozelo Vintage Port
Very good nose.  Nicely balanced.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2003 Quinta de Ventozelo Vintage Port
Very nice perfume on the nose.  Rich round fruit.  Nicely integrated.  A very promising wine.


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Last updated: 05 June 2006