Two Hands’ Single Vineyard wines take regionality to a high level by focussing on sites that justify individual treatment by consistently producing wines of distinctive style with particular qualities. They are simply named after the block, the road or the township they come from. Here’s Joe Czerwinski, writing for the important U.S. publication Wine Advocate: ‘Two Hands is making a collection of Shirazes that may be unrivalled in the world for expressing the places where they're grown... Tasting through the lineup is a fabulous exercise in seeing how Shiraz reflects its place’.
Hands-on proprietor Michael Twelftree has identified key sites that do have the X-factor, and the Secret Block in the Barossa Valley is one. The site, in the Moppa Hills sub-region, typically makes a wine with seductive aromas, great elegance and exceptional fruit and tannin structure. The small production is handled separately, from crushing and fermentation through to oak maturation, with the decision on every barrel’s ultimate destination left until six months after vintage, when each one is assessed (and may be declassified if it fails to meet the wine’s high standards). With minimum intervention in the winery and discreet use of oak, the aim is to give character of place the best possible chance to assert itself.
Colonel William Light, the South Australian colony’s Surveyor-General, named the Barossa in 1837 after the site of an English victory over the French in the Spanish Peninsular War. In the mid-1800’s Silesian and English immigrants settled in the area. The Barossa itself comprises two distinct sub-regions: Eden Valley and the warmer Barossa Valley floor at 270m.The Barossa Valley enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate characterised by hot dry summers and relatively low rainfall. Cool sea breezes from the Gulf of St Vincent modify the temperature, however hot northerly winds can occasionally dominate creating considerable vine stress. Many older established vineyards are dry-grown, but supplementary irrigation is also extensively used. The valley is comprised of rich brown soils and alluvial sands. A long history of uninterrupted viticulture in the area means the Barossa valley is home to Australia’s largest concentration of old-vine Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre with many over 100 years old. Although most famous for Shiraz, the Barossa can also produce fragrant and deliciously fruity Grenache blends and beautifully rich, chocolatey Cabernet Sauvignons.