Let's face it - first impressions count. We judge books by covers, and sometimes wines by labels. At least in part.
So, first things first. The kitschy name. I sincerely hope it derives from something to do with gnarled vines. Because otherwise, it smacks of faux hipness; of mouldy old, marketing men trying to prove to the iSnack 2.0 generation that their product is cool. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in this case, since this brand has been admirably successful in marketing its product - particularly to the overseas market. But the vine on the label still looks as though it has seen better days - and maybe a bushfire or two.
All told, Two Hands produces an astonishing 12 different straight Shirazeseses (the plural of Shiraz, if you didn't know) across five different ranges. The Gnarly Dude falls into their entry level "Picture Series'. Two Hands "for beginners", if you will.
But whatever the first impression, all is forgiven in the glass.
It pours dark. Like fresh tar. At Midnight. With the streetlights out.
And the nose speaks to you with a voice every bit as deep and timbrous as Madge from Neighbours. It hits you like napalm in the morning – and, like Colonel Kilgore, I loved it.
In the mouth, it is a huge Barossa red. Fruity and spicy to start, it explodes with more nuttiness than a sanatorium. But, happily, it then develops with a smoothness and length that is quite unexpected.
This then, I think, is wine for men who won't eat quiche. A carnivore. It demands a nice thick rib eye, with a side order of rack of lamb.
All in all, it is a cracking Barossa shiraz, with a touch of class. A coquettish choirgirl with a twinkle in her eye. A boxing glove, made of kid leather.
Surf's up. Dude.
Drink with: Harold and Dr Karl
*My only (other) issue with this wine is that my final pour from the bottle contained seriously large chunks of wood such that I’ve never seen before. I can only assume this is not the norm, and it was a dodgy bottle. Perhaps I got the bottom of the barrel. I will have to try it again to find out. Oh, the horror. The horror.