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Hardys: Australia’s Wine Powerhouse

8 Jan

By Sharon Kapnick

Although it isn’t particularly well known in the U.S. these days, Hardys is the biggest-selling wine brand in the U.K. According to the 2013 Intangible Business Report, it’s also the most powerful Australian wine brand in the world and the second most powerful wine brand–only Gallo surpasses it–overall. (Intangible Business is a leading independent international brand valuation and strategy consultancy in the U.K.)

In addition to these high standings, Hardys winemakers have been praised by Australia’s leading wine critic and authority, James Halliday. In the Wine Atlas of Australia, he wrote, “Hardys has a dedicated and highly talented winemaking team which often seems to be one step ahead of the field.” He’s also lauded its “diverse portfolio of exceptional quality wines.”

Hardys obviously is a brand to explore. Its first vineyards were planted in 1854 by Thomas Hardy, whose goal was “to create wines that will be prized in the markets of the world.” Today the fifth generation of the Hardy family aims to do the same.

I recently had a chance to try several Hardys wines with chief winemaker Paul Lapsley. The popular Nottage Hill line is priced at just $13 SRP (suggested retail price). The 2012 Pinot Noir is outstanding, which is no mean feat.  (As Ray Isle writes in Food & Wine’s blog, “With Pinot, it’s tricky even getting ‘good’ and ‘affordable’ into the same bottle.”) With aromas and flavors of red and dark cherries, raspberries and herbal hints, it’s light, lovely and very food friendly. And it’s a great buy.

Another good value is the 2011 William Hardy Shiraz (SRP $17), one of the newly introduced William Hardy wines. It’s a blend of grapes from at least five regions. “Australians don’t hesitate to blend cross-region,” Lapsley said. “The goal is to make the best wine you can.”  With aromas and flavors of blueberry, dark cherry and plum, this Shiraz is soft, round, full bodied and complex, with balanced acidity.

Tintara’s 2010 McLaren Vale Shiraz (SRP $19) sticks to grapes from one region. It’s distinguished by flavors of dark red fruits, a silky round texture and a complex fruit character.

Eileen Hardy is the top tier, which aims to showcase the breadth and depth of Hardys wines. I tried the 2012 Chardonnay, which was elegant, well balanced and creamy. The 2013 Decanter Asia Wine Awards gave the 2010 Eileen Hardy Pinot Noir from Tasmania the International Trophy for Pinot Noir. (These wines are expected to reach the U.S. in the next year or so. Estimated prices are $90-$100.)

The wines range from eminently affordable to a bit of a splurge. Hardys offers something for everyone.

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