China Daily wine column #12

Variations in weather and the caprice of fate make it tough for a winemaker to produce excellence every year. So consistently great wines deserve special mention.
Such is the case with Eileen Hardy chardonnay, which has won a gold medal at every wine show it has entered for almost two decades. The newly released 2008 vintage is superb. It won three trophies at this year’s prestigious Sydney wine show, plus at least five gold medals at other shows.
James Halliday, best known of Australia’s wine writers, said this chardonnay represented “the state of the art” in the country and gave it 97 points out of 100.
The grapes come from cool climate regions in Victoria and Tasmania. Chief winemaker Paul Lapsley told me the combination of regions gave the wine elegance and length. “This is the distillation of 20 years of winemaking.”
The bouquet reminded me of a great French chablis: mineral or flint, toast and grapefruit beautifully integrated. The depth of the Victorian fruit balances the rapier-like acidity of the Tasmanian grapes. In the mouth the wine tastes like lemon curd and cashews, and the flavours linger like the memory of a great love affair. This wine would keep for at least a decade, but is delicious now.
Eileen Hardy shiraz is another iconic Australian wine with a host of medals. The 2005 vintage represents the 35th version of a formidable heritage. It is a blend of McLaren Vale fruit, much of it from vines at least 100 years old.
The nose offers masses of blackberry and peat aromas. The wine starts sweet in the mouth and ends with a savoury finish, built around a silky tannic structure. Cellared well, it will be superb drink in 2020.
The 2006 Thomas Hardy cabernet sauvignon also has an exceptional structure that means it would be magnificent in two decades. Yet it is so artfully made it drinks beautifully now. The nose exudes elegance and refinement, with aromas of black olive, cassis and mint. Flavours of dark berries, chocolate and cedar keep rolling through the palate like the echo of an erhu in a concert hall.
To select one wine ahead of the others would be like choosing one child ahead of their siblings – an impossible task. All are wondrous and represent the best of Australian winemaking.
Constellation Wines Australia said Eileen Hardy chardonnay sells for RMB 880 in Beijing. The Eileen Hardy shiraz and the Thomas Hardy cabernet sauvignon each retail for RMB 1,380.
* “Great Australian wines” in China Daily, 25 September 2010, page 12

Categories: Not home, wine

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