Sunday, January 19, 2014

In time for Australia Day – A double barrel from Hardy’s

In case you’re wondering what to do with next weekend, since the Super Bowl is still a week away, you could consider throwing an Australia Day party. Australia Day is often likened to the 4th of July in the U.S., and there is a connection. After we declared our independence in 1776 and kicked the Brits out for good in 1783, the British Empire was in need of a new expansion. The British First Fleet landed at Botany Bay in Australia on January 26th, 1787 to set up a penal colony and outpost. The day became an official national holiday in Australia in 1994.

With Australia Day as a backdrop, the good folks at Folsom & Associates sent along a pair of Australian wines as potential accompaniments to however and whatever you’re going to be celebrating over the next couple of weeks, and beyond.

This pair of wines is from Hardy’s, one of the older winemaking operations in Australia. They were founded in 1853 by Thomas Hardy, who is not to be confused with this guy, the author of Jude the Obscure or either of these guys:

Nope. Not winemakers.
The fifth generation of Hardys currently operates the winery, which produces wines under the Nottage Hill, William Hardy, Tintara, Stamp of Australia, and Whiskers Blake labels. (Whiskers Blake actually makes a very tasty port, if memory and my archives hold.) This mixed pair pulls from two of these labels. Here’s what we got to sample:

Hardy’s 2012 “Nottage Hill” Shiraz – You don’t even have to get this wine to your lips to know this is an Aussie Shiraz. The nose is a dead giveaway. Australian Shiraz tends to be big, fragrant, and full of big, extracted fruit. This is no different. On the bouquet, I got big, ripe plums with a little cut wood in the back of my nostrils. The flavor follows right along initially. At first sip, it’ll hit you with a whallop of big dark fruits, but therafter it settles down a bit and reveals some nice structure with good, firm tannins that linger throughout. This tannin is necessary as balance for the considerably fruit, which turns more blackberryish towards the end. At $13, this is a very drinkable wine if you’re looking for a good winter red. I had this alongside a thyme-spiked mushroom and beef ravioli soup and it was a good match. Great with dark chocolate, as well.

Hardy’s 2012 “William Hardy” Chardonnay – This bottle turned out to be a very different style of Chardonnay than I’m used to. I’m accustomed to either the bigger Chardonnays of California or the leaner styles of Burgundy. This wine tries to split the difference. I saw in the winemaking notes that it’s a combination of fruit. It’s largely juice from cool growing regions, which usually means a leaner style, but it’s blended with some warm weather grapes to round it out. The result? I found a nose of lime and melted butter. The body is fairly substantial with more citrus flavors than the peachy ones I was expecting. The flavor transitions into an oaky finish that’s slightly cut through by more lime flavor. While there was apparently some malolactic fermentation, which usually turns chardonnay creamy, I didn’t get those flavors at all – although it did add to the weight, I’m certain. All in all, it’s not a bad wine, especially if you like citrus and oak. I think it’s a little pricey at $17. I think it probably would be good with shellfish or any sort of grilled fish or chicken.

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