Two Hands Ares 2005 Shiraz, $149.99-$229.99, 97 points, was a Christmas gift in December of 2010 from my son Ethan; keeping a great wine for two years is a short time for most wine fanatics, but I still refer to myself as a "Newbie" wine taster, and wines of note are not easy to save even for a week.
I knew what the price was, because I had just bought the 2006 two months earlier, and had been motivated by the outrageous "savings" to buy one, though many would just say "What?" However, try buying a 97 point Bordeaux for that price, and keep in mind that other reviewers scored this wine in the rarefied zone above 97 points. Tut, tutting all of this is meaningless unless you've tasted the Ares wine, and I don't recommend decanting or letting the wine breathe, I recommend opening and begin, because the finish on this wine takes a considerable amount of time to appreciate.
Though Ethan is a fabulous cook, I did the cooking, (Spiced Australian near rare lamb rib chops) and together we reaped the rewards of his excellent gifting and my pairing. Next December it'll be the 2006 Ares, Deo volente!
To the wine:
Ares rims clear, trends deep ruby to purple and then black, as black and dense a wine as I've seen.
A toasty and butterscotch-like aroma was what greeted me, and that made me a bit nervous, but with a little teasing came hints of blackberry and currant.
Full bodied (I don't describe many wines as full bodied), Ares is a "hedonistic" wine, voluptuous, and a real contender to the big cult Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The acidity busts through any lingering fat and refreshes without annoyance, the tannin is smooth, rich, and pleasantly persistent in layers.
Flavors reflect the aroma with black licorice, but is visited by an acceleration of an unrelenting bourbon-like heat (15.9% alcohol) into a remarkably long finish that adds spice and eucalyptus.
Christmas gift? Yes, this is a special wine gift (One I'll never forget), and if you can't find the 2005, which still has time to cellar, try another vintage. Two hands also has Bella's Garden Shiraz, which to me is fabulous as well, but costing between $50 and $70.
Christmas wish from Australia
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