IN 2003 the Hardy family ceased to hold equity in the company it founded in 1853 but the Hardy name still looms large among the giant Accolade group's flagship Australian wines.
That is evidenced in a new batch of wines reviewed below - the $160 Hardys 2017 Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon, $118 2019 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay and $154 2018 Eileen Hardy Shiraz.
The cabernet sauvignonhonours Thomas Hardy, the founder the Hardys enterprise, who had been a farmer in the English county of Devon and in 1850 aged 20 migrated to South Australia. In 1853 he planted the first Hardys vines beside the River Torrens and made his maiden vintage in 1857.
The chardonnay and shiraz are named for Eileen Hardy wife of Thomas Hardy company chief Tom Mayfield Hardy, who died in the 1938 Kyeemagh air crash at Mount Dandenong. That left Eileen as family matriarch, raising her children and several other Hardy family members. Former Hardys chairman and Olympic and America's Cup yachtsman Sir James Hardy is one of her three sons.
Beyond labelling, Hardy traditions dating back to last century are maintained in multi-regional blending. It is seen here in the Yarra Valley-Margaret River origins of the 2019 chardonnay and the Coonawarra-Margaret River mix in the 2017 cabernet sauvignon.
Along with Hardys, the Accolade group includes the Bay of Fires, Croser, Petaluma, Houghton, Grant Burge, St Hallett, House of Arras and Knappstein brands. After a $A1 billion deal in 2018, it is now controlled by the US Washington DC-based Carlyle private equity firm.
Hardys and the other portfolio wines are made under the direction of Nigel Sneyd, who must be among the world's most widely experienced wine professionals.
He began working in the wine industry at the age of 17 and went on to get a Charles Sturt University oenology degree.
Then came a move to France during which he became fluent in French, won a Dijon University Diplme National d'Oenologue, finishing dux of the course.
In France he worked at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy and Champagne Krug then had a spell in Western Australia as at Evans and Tate winemaker.
It was then back to France to head Hardy's Domaine de la Baume subsidiary and later in 2009 he joined the mammoth US E and J Gallo wine group in London, relocating to California in 2015 to become Gallo director of winemaking. In 2019 he returned to Australia as Accolade Wines global director of wine and quality and Hardy's head winemaker.
A SUBLIME Yarra Valley-Margaret River blend, the Hardys 2019 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay shines brassy gold in the glassand has peach blossom and marzipan scents and expressive yellow nectarine front-palate flavour. The middle palate shows fig, oatmeal, nougat and cashew oak and the finish flinty acid. It's at hardyswines.com and bottle shops.
DRINK WITH: paella.
AGEING: 10 years.
RATING: 5.5 stars (out of 6)
WITH 14.5% alcohol, deep purple hues and mulberry and cinnamon aromas, this splendid Hardys 2017 Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon rolls onto the front palate with intense, ripe blackcurrant flavour. Plum, blueberry, spice, dark chocolate and cedary oak marry on the middle palate and minty tannins play at the finish.
DRINK WITH: rib of beef with bearnaise sauce.
AGEING: 18 years.
RATING: 6 stars
McLAREN VALE POWER
McLAREN Vale grapes produced this multi-layered, bright garnet, potpourri-scented Hardys 2018 Eileen Hardy Shiraz. The front palate delivers powerful blood plum flavour, the middle palate has blackberry, licorice, Cherry Ripe chocolate, olive and mocha oak characters and savoury tannins feature at the finish.
DRINK WITH: roast rack of lamb with red wine glaze.
AGEING: 15 years.
RATING: 5.5 stars
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