Friday, 16 October 2009

Eileen Hardy tasting with Bill Hardy:

After spending several hours traversing London (Leyton to Earls Court is a long way) we were upstairs at the Atlas Pub for a mini tasting of Eileen Hardy Shiraz and Chardonnay.

I think this was the first time I’d come across the Eileen Hardy wines, the flagship Shiraz and Chardonnay from the Hardy portfolios.

Released originally to celebrate Eileen Hardy’s 80th birthday in 1973 the wine proved so popular that it was made a yearly release, initially just being the best red wine the company could produce, before being pegged to the best Shiraz (Thomas Hardy is soon to be released as the best red wine of the year). A Chardonnay joined the fold in 87 as a Chardonnay.

Chatting with Bill was great fun, as he is a great conversationalist and took some time explaining the evolution of the styles of the wines, taking in the move to increasingly cool climate vineyards for the Chardonnay, from the Padthaway home of much of the early fruit through the Adelaide Hills, Thumbarumba, and currently Tasmania. Along with this the wine making has become less clean and technical, with fermentation and malo in the barrel, and less new oak.

This was all very evident in the difference between the 02, which was fully mature and showing loads of creamy, earthy overripe fruit and very obvious barrel notes, yet was starting to come apart.

Then jumping to the 04 which was the first vintage to have a majority of Tasmanian fruit, and consequently was much lither, showing a beautiful balance between ripe fruits, citrus, and mature barrique and batonnage characteristics.

The 05 and 06 both bade very well for the future with the 06 in particular showing a beautiful creaminess as it opened up on the palette.

As for the reds there was a rather odd truculence of character about the two middle wines with both the 98 (best vintage of the decade), and the 01 seeming very muted and closed, especially when contrasted with the exuberance of the 95 and 04.

The 04 was a joy to drink, being awash with a fabulous purity of ripe dark fruits, plums, violets, some menthol and eucalypt, but more of the herbaceous characters of youth. Then as a total contrast, and quite interesting lesson – we all need reminding as often as possible how wonderful Australian reds can be at over 10 years of age – the wonderfully complex 95, a slightly medicinal edge to the eucalypt, dark fruits, a slight leatheriness and a lovely sweet berry fruit palette that segues into a meaty savoury finish.

All that was left was for be to rant about the lack of appreciation for aged new world wines, before shooting off to Planet of the Grapes to get tipsy and set myself up for being late the next day…..

No comments: