Hardy Wines – Australian classic

If you’re a lover of Australian wine, then surely you’ve sipped a glass or two of Hardy’s at some point in your experience. It is one of the most recognized wine brands on the planet, and available in over 70 countries. For the last 150 years or more, Hardy’s has been producing award-winning wines that have been prized in all markets and have made a lot of wine drinkers very happy. Having won over 2,800 awards in its long history, the inherent quality of its wine is legendary. So when icon winemaker Bill Hardy, the great-great-grandson of founder Thomas Hardy, came to town recently to host a winemaker’s dinner, it was hard to say no to the invitation. The man is extremely charming and a great ambassador for Australian wine in general. Although I had lunch with him about a year ago and tasted some of his wines then, he brought new vintages and a couple new creations to tempt me.

First up was the 2011 Gamble ($14.95, LCBO), from his ‘Chronicles’ line. An interesting blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, it was packed with white peachy, creamy notes from the Chardonnay and fruit salad, mineral and delicate spice from the Pinot Gris. A touch of oak added some weight while a refreshing citric backbone provided crisp freshness and elegance. Great for the warmer weather!

Next was his 2009 HRB Chardonnay D648 ($29.95, Vintages, Nov. 10). The fruit here was sourced from several vineyards and the wine mostly fermented in older oak and aged for eight months in barrel. Toasty, flinty, figgy, nutty oak overlay citrus, white stone fruit, mineral and grapefruit with a fuller mouth feel backed up by decent acidity and minerality. A sweet note from the oak adds to the wine’s appeal and good length.

The Eileen Hardy label is his top of the line and the 2009 Chardonnay ($59.95, not currently available) certainly lived up to that reputation. 100 per cent oak fermented and aged an additional nine months in French oak (50 per cent new), this famed Chardonnay was chock-full of toasty, peachy, lemony grapefruit and spice with hints of mineral. The rich palate was beautifully balanced by slatey, crisp acidity that rendered it elegant and very sexy. Great length too!

The Chronicles 2010 Butcher’s Gold Shiraz/Sangiovese ($14.95, LCBO) was very interesting. Aged eight months in old oak barriques, this baby sported toast, plum, prune, sour cherry, blackberry, chocolate, pepper and mint. The full-bodied palate carried the dark fruit and savoury, somewhat spicy, dry tannins nicely. Lots of flavour here for the price!

Smoky, spicy blueberry, pepper, licorice, coffee, tar, chocolate, anise and leather exuded from the 2007 HRB Shiraz D641 ($34.95, Vintages, Nov. 24). Aged in French oak, this little complex number was juicy, well balanced, rich and full with a slight gaminess that added a touch of the wild. Very tasty!

The flagship of the Hardy collection is none other than the Eileen Hardy Shiraz. The 2005 ($89.95, not currently available) was superb. Aged 19 months in French oak barriques, this outstanding wine oozed with sappy blueberry, spice, chocolate, savoury pepper, dark plum, licorice, black olive and anise, all wrapped up in a lightly smoky package. Powerful, rich, yet elegant, fine tannined with hints of rhubarb and cigar box, it was long and graceful. Truly a spectacular wine!

We ended the evening with Hardy’s Whisker’s Blake Tawny Port (approx. $15 – $20, not currently available). This 8-year-old tawny-style wine, made from Grenache and Shiraz, sported dried fruit (fig, date, sultana raisin, apricot) with undertones of pecans and chocolate. Good balancing acidity elevated the fruit and made for a delightful fortified treat.

Gotta love Hardy’s wines. They’re full of ‘life, flavour, structure and balance’. With their history and world presence, chances are there’s somebody somewhere in the world sipping some Hardy’s wine at this very moment.

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