Breakfast with Bill Hardy!

Wow, what an interesting morning! I was invited with a group of other bloggers over breakfast to meet with Bill Hardy, who is the 5th generation from Thomas Hardy who started Hardys wines in South Australia. Bill is a winemaker as well as a Brand Ambassador for Hardys. Hardys is over 150 years old, starting in 1853. Quite a long heritage.

The main goal of the breakfast was to let us know about a new bottle being marketed in Canada by Hardys called the SHUTTLE. The Shuttle is a 250ml bottle that contains 250ml of wine. It uses a stelvin-like closure and consists of a bottle with glass. The closure is inside the plastic glass and the glass is inverted on top of the bottle of wine. We were shown the Chardonnay / Semillion blend shuttle. There will also be a Syrah / Cabernet Sauvignon shuttle also for the Canadian market. The nice thing about the shuttle to me, is that it is just the right amount of wine if you are having a meal by yourself, or to take on a picnic when you do not want to fuss with glasses and a bottle opener. You just twist the cap / glass to open the bottle; pour and enjoy. The price is also right at CAD$4.25 plus tax.

Bill let us talk about anything with him. I found out that this year’s vintage, 2009, is generally very good. There was a heat wave at the beginning of the harvest which affected the early ripening white grapes, but then it cooled off and the remaining white and red grapes produced very well. Bill indicated that he is very happy with the red wine production.

Did you know that the Tintara Vineyard was the first purchased by Thomas Hardy in the McLaren Vale (1876), which is south east of Adelaide? You may have heard of the Tintara line of wines from Hardys. I can attest that the Tintara Shiraz is outstanding as I have had the opportunity to try this wine at previous South World Wine Society tastings.

Hardys is also supportive of many groups, and I found out that one group is Canucks Place here in Vancouver. Any winery that supports people in need, especially children, rate high in my books.

Closing off this blog, I asked Bill for the favourite wine that he produced at Hardys. I expected him to say a big, extracted Aussie Shiraz, but was pleasantly suprised when he offered two wines, and they were both dessert / fortified wines! The first wine was the 1985 Hardys Collector Beerenauslese Riesling. This is a dessert wine that has been affected by Noble Rot. The Noble Rot imparts a honeyed / marmalade type flavour to this sweet wine. The Noble Rot wizens the grapes, leaving less water before pressing, and therefore more syrup for fermentation. The yeasts typically have problems fermenting super sugary syrup and die around 12-13 % alcohol. This leaves a fair amount of residual sugar. If you have not tried a Beerenauslese level wine, you should try. Most come from Germany, and most are very expensive, but well worth the cost to try at least once.

The other favourite wine that Bill produced was a 1975 Vintage Port, which he also noted was made by accident. Bill had identified a block of very good grapes which he was going to use to produce a top level Thomas Hardy still red wine. He had started the fermentation of the block of grapes and turned over the monitoring of the fermentation to another winemaker. He forgot though to tell the other winemaker that that block of grapes was for a still wine. The other winemaker thought that those grapes looked like they would be prime for port so he added alcohol to the fermentation, thus stopping it (killing the yeast), and the rest is history.

To close, keep your eyes open for the new Shuttle and try it on your next picnic. Enjoy!