Two Hands, Australia and Terroir
The wine writer Jamie Goode asked, on his blog, “So what does terroir taste like?” A conclusion he reached that might surprise some is that terroir doesn’t dictate that all wines from a site taste the same. Goode writes:
I think that terroir expression is about a partnership between the grower and the vineyard. It is the job of the grower to listen to her or his site, and interpret that site in the wine, allowing it to speak.
For this reason, I think there can be several legitimate expressions of a site. You can have wines with different flavours, all of which have a sense of place. We are venturing into slightly subjective territory here, because who is to say that a particular wine is a legitimate expression of where it has come from?
This is a view of terroir that reflects the reality that wine is something made by humans. For all the talk of natural wine, wine does not simply spring from the Earth. Michael Twelftree has spoken to how this essential interaction plays out in the wines from Two Hands, and finds it particularly meaningful in a relatively young wine region like Australia.
Do we have terroir reflected in our wines at Two Hands? Absolutely. But we are a New World winery and in the New World we have not had a sufficient time to find and define our greatest sites; we have old vines but most have only been used for dry wine production for the past 40 odd years.
For Two Hands and the New World, I think we are best to respect the French-only notion of terroir as we strive to gain a truer, deeper understanding of our own vineyard sites. This is a long process. Yes, it begins by identifying the characteristics of a few special parcels, gaining an understanding of the individual terroirs of each site, but the key exercise now is linking a number of terroirs within a region to produce a trustworthy statement about the broader features.
For instance, we should strive to define the different flavour in a Heathcote Shiraz compared to a Clare Valley Shiraz, or a Barossa vs. McLaren Vale. And at Two Hands we do this with our six Garden Series Shiraz-based wines. Each vintage, these wines add to our understanding of regionality in Australian Shiraz, helping build a knowledge structure that can elevate both consumer enjoyment of the wines and their quality as vintners hone in on the essence of the region. And then with the Single Vineyard Series, we have the opportunity to highlight a few special parcels in exceptional vintages.