Hardys Wines recently held a landmark tasting in London to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their iconic Eileen Hardy Chardonnay. The tasting was attended by three generations of the Hardys family, including Sir James Hardy (fourth generation Hardy and son of Eileen), Bill Hardy (fifth generation Hardy and grandson of Eileen) and Bill’s daughter, Alix Hardy. Leading the tasting was Hardys Chief White Winemaker, Tom Newton, who has worked on every single vintage of Eileen Chardonnay since its launch in 1986.
“The 2014 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay is incredibly special to all of us at the winery as this vintage marks the 30th year of production,” said Tom Newton. “Along the journey of its making, we have traversed the country selecting cool climate vineyards that fit our criteria required for this great wine.”
The wines were split into three flights, allowing guests to see the evolution of fruit source and winemaking style in relation to Chardonnay within Australia. The first flight (1986 -1996) was the more traditional Australian style of rich ripe fruit and obvious oak, with the fruit predominately sourced off the Padthaway Vineyard.
Flight two (1997-2003) saw the evolution to a finer, more complex style of Chardonnay as fruit became available from cooler regions (such as Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley, Tumbarumba and finally Tasmania). More “Burgundian” winemaking techniques (such as MLF, inclusion of grape solids, aging on lees and natural yeast fermentation) were trialled and adopted.
Flight three (2004-2014) was significant with the introduction of screw caps, a focus on the Yarra Valley and Tasmania as the fruit source and a desire to create a truly Australian Chardonnay. The result was a wine with style, finesse, flavour and integrity, highlighting the sweet juicy fruit and soft mineral acidity characteristic of the cool climate terroir.
A number of Masters of Wine attended the tasting, including Peter Richards MW, who stated, “It was a privilege to witness wine history first hand as we did today. The evolution of the wines told a fascinating tale, as did the commentary by Bill, Tom and Sir James. The recent vintages were all hugely impressive,, boding for a very bright future. This is a thoroughbred wine that benefits from ageing – the 2014 is still so young”.
The most recent of the Eileen Hardy Chardonnays, the newly released 2014 vintage was served at lunch, along with other new releases; 2014 Eileen Hardy Pinot Noir, 2013 Eileen Hardy Shiraz and 2013 Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon.
Guests at the event were also privileged to taste the newly launched Hardys fortified range of wines, which is not available in the UK but has recently been released in Australia.
The Hardys Rare Show Sweet White, Rare Tawny, Rare Muscat and Rare Liqueur Sauvignon Blanc were sourced from the winery’s reserve wines, which matured in barrel over many decades. The wines had been carefully selected, skilfully blended and produced in limited quantities.