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Best of the Best 2011: International Red Wines: Two Hands 2008 Ares Barossa Valley Shiraz

If Penfolds, founded in 1844, embodies Australia’s winemaking past, then Two Hands Wines represents that country’s ever more promising future. In contrast to Europe and California—where most vintners strive to express vineyard-specific terroirs or narrowly defined appellations—Australia has embraced maverick winemakers who blend wines without regard to their places of origin, which in some cases are hundreds of miles apart. Their aim is perfect balance. In this pursuit of perfection, few of these trailblazers have approached this task with greater bravura than Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz, who founded Two Hands in 1999. Though the partners do produce a portfolio of excellent single-vineyard red wines, their flagship creations are proprietary blends of stunning power and grace. One of the finest of these, the Two Hands 2008 Ares Barossa Valley Shiraz (www.twohandswines.com, $165), is an ink-dark, toe-curling elixir that roils with flavors of black cherry, blackberry, coffee, orange pekoe tea, and cocoa.

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