The Winemaker’s Art and Australian Regional Diversity
The central mission of Two Hands Wines is simple: show the world how great and diverse Australian Shiraz can be. It’s a mission on display each vintage with the winery’s Garden Series, consisting of a Shiraz from six very distinct regions of Australia. In the latest issue of Sommelier Journal, Michael Twelftree tells the story of how he approaches what could be the most important part of the entire winemaking process: sourcing grapes.
In part, our decision is based on the growers themselves: how enjoyable are they to work with, how do they share our vision for quality, and how do they handle the pressure that comes at harvest time? You can only discover the true potential of any site if your goals are aligned with theirs. Over the years, I have walked hundreds of kilometres in many, many vineyards and been excited to discover new blocks, soils, clones, and canopy arrangements. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and discuss viticulture with people holding varied points of view, and I’ve tasted many grapes at many stages of development.
In the piece, Twelftree goes on to give an insider’s detailed look at each region Two Hands features in the Garden Series. But he also gives more general insight into what makes a great vineyard.
I really prefer sloping vineyards with an east-west alignment, which protects the fruit zone in the heat of the day, since each row offers shade to the next. Ideally, these slopes should face south, southeast, or east, tilting away from the sun to shield the vines from intense radiation on late-summer afternoons. I also prefer younger Shiraz vineyards to older ones. That surprises some people, but the younger the sites were established on a foundation of much better engineering. The soils were prepared correctly with deep ripping, the right clones were planted, and the right trellises were constructed with proper irrigation. Catcher or lifting wires can be used more easily to thin the shoots and support the canopy throughout the growing season. Yes, I love the romance of the old vineyards, too! But after long experimentation, I find I get much more consistent results from younger vines, around 7-20 years of age.
The entire “Winemaker’s Art” essay is available on the Sommelier Journal website.