Bill Hardy and his wonderful wines!

By Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM

The indomitable Travelling Gourmet tours McLaren Vale and South Australia’s wine country with Bill Hardy of Hardy’s wines…

MY arival in Adelaide on ANZAC Day, Wednesdy 25 April, 2012 found this beautiful city serene and peaceful as ANZAC Day is a public holiday in Australia. I had been very kindly invited to attend Tasting Australia Food & Wine Festival 2012, arguably the most famous such event in the Southern hemisphere.

It’s all in the Bag!

I love the Journalist’s Tasting Australia bag in green and black with its avant garde fork logo! It has enough pockets including covert pockets for everything a journalist needs, including a laptop pocket!

After checking in to the luxurious Intercontinental Hotel on North Terrace, I had a meeting with my friend, the fit and friendly Executive Chef Tony Hart over a cappuccino.

Then I met up with my good friend, Bill Hardy, Brand Ambassador of world famous Hardy’s wines.  Hardy’s is the biggest selling label in the United Kingdom!

Bill Hardy is one of the nicest winemakers I have ever met, smart, humble and very helpful. We drove off in his Holden and headed west towards the coast to Maslin Beach which is a nudist beach. Along the way he told me about his time in France where he trained, live and worked in Cognac and Bordeaux.

“I did one year in Bordeaux University to be an oenologist as I already had a degree in Agriculture fr0m Adelaide University. I arrived in Bordeaux nine months before to learn French and to really integrate in to French society. I loved to cook ‘moules marinere’ every weekend. You could buy enough mussels for 2 Euros to feed a family of four! Bill has two daughters named Kate and Alex. The wine with my name “William Hardy” Shiraz and Chardonnay is now in all the UK airports Duty Free including London Heathrow.”

Sojourn by the Sea!

Soon we were in Port Willunga after a very pleasant drive on the Motorway which was devoid of traffic. This is where many of Adelaide’s elite have their ‘beach shacks’ or holiday homes which turn out to be quite posh bungalows. The view here is ueber spectacular with a beach of white sand that goes on forever and crashing waves. The strong salt wind blew in my hair as the splendid panoramic view took my breath away. We adjourned to the celebrated Star of Greece restaurant which started out as a humble food hut on the beach. It is named after a historic ship that was wrecked on Friday 13 July, 1888. Pristine white walls and spotless white tablecloths, plus simple yet elegant rattan and wood chairs belie its humble facade. A glass of Jansz Sparkling wine with a fine perlage from Tasmania was an aperitif.  We made a toast as I congratulated him on over 40 years in the family wine business since 7th February 1972!


My hors d’oeuvre of Foie Gras Terrine with red Quince Consomme and Maple Syrup was very stunningly presented. The sweetness of the quince made a nice foil for the decadent sweetness of the goose liver! Perfect with the Tasmanian sparkler which highlighted the robust richness of flavour of the liver. Another good wine was the Felton Road Block 6 Chardonnay 2006 from Central Otago. There was enough wood but the Chardonnay was  not over oaked, and its lemony flavours on the mid palate also complemented the foie gras, despite it being a dry and not a sweet dessert wine.

Le entree

Confit of Ocean Trout was so moist and sexy like the tender lips of a beautiful woman. Enoki and Oyster mushrooms added extra flavour while dollops of basil puree delighted. The side dish of healthy Broccollini was crunchy and the roasted local almonds most tasty. I also adored the natural sweet Snap Peas with their crisp snap as they had not been overcooked! Bay of Fires Pinot Noir 2010 from Tasmania, though young, had the lovely flavours and nose of ripe strawberries and it certainly made the Ocean Trout taste so much better! I was so full I settled for a hot Caffe Latte instead of dessert.

We drove off and continued past almond trees and olive orchards while Bill explained enthusiastically about McLaren Vale, “McLaren Vale is defined by the mountain range and ocean on the west…and the river. It’s a triangular area and the ocean is the Gulf of St. Vincent. It is remarkable because St. Vincent, as you know, Michael…is the Patron Saint of Wine! the Gulf moderates the micro-climate and so there is no extreme heat in summer. There is also the effect of the Millunga Scarp, which looks like the folds of a woman’s breast!”

Winding roads banked by eucalyptus trees brought us to…

Terrific Tintara!

The ironstone cottages impressed me. Bill explained, “My great great Grandfather bought this abandoned flour mill in 1876. The straw coloured painted building there is the oldest part of the winery.” Hardy’s was founded in 1853.

“Six thousand to seven thousand tonnes of grapes are processed here annually.”

To explanin the etymology of the name, there is a town in South Australia named Tintara, and in the aboriginal language Tintara means: a number of young men hunting emus and kangaroos in the sky. That is what the aborigines though the constellation in the night sky called “Orion” depicted.

Tintara’s Secret…

Bill shared with me one secret why Hardy’s wines are so good with silky soft tannins and no bitter aggressive elements. I shall share it with you, honourable readers.

You see the grape skins after 7 to 10 days fermention become very fragile and if disrupted, release bitter and unpleasant elements in to the wine. After much research and though, Bill Hardy came up with an ingenious avant- garde solution. Firstly, the stainless steel fermenters are 50mm thick double walled with a heating/cooling coil in between. This ensures very good temperature control to bring out the desirable delicate flavours. Also, following traditional Burgundian techniques with a high tech 21st Century twist, semi-automatic robotic punchers made of teflon can slide vertically between the various tanks to do the punch down technique. No need for labour intensive operations with this innovation. Lastly, the fermenters are on double hinges so they can be tilted up with a simple jack to gently tip out the contents without damaging the skins. Voila! No bitter elements and no aggressive tannins. Despite the winery being closed, Bill personally showed me the equipment with his master key unlocking huge padlocks and many security doors.

Then we adjourned to a special one on one tasting to see the difference in ‘terroir’ between a McLaren Flat Shiraz 2005 and a Blewitt Springs Shiraz 2005. The Mclaren Flat Shiraz was introverted whereas the Blewitt Springs Shiraz was more open and extroverted with red fruit, plum and prune flavours due to the sandy soils. Shiraz from the McLaren Vale typically do not exhibit pepper and spice. I recommend these wines with Ragout of Beef Cheek and venison and duck a la orange too! ENJOY! {:-)

About thetravellinggourmet

As a renowned Travel, Food & Wine Writer he has travelled the world in a keen & indomitable pursuit of exotic delicacies & fine wines. His articles have been published in over 20 prestigious publications, both local & international. Dr. Lim has toured and trained in Wine Evaluation & Oenology in most of the world's top wine producing areas from France to Australia. The Travelling Gourmet says, "Gastronomy has no frontier. These are the gastronomic voyages of The Travelling Gourmet. My unending mission. To explore strange new cuisines, to seek out new wines and new culinary experiences, to boldly go where no gourmet has gone before...." Have pen, will travel. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any other information storage & retrieval system, without permission from Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet and/or MSN. Material may be works of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents may be true but may also be products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance whatsoever to actual person or persons, either dead or living, events, or locales may be entirely and purely coincidental and unintentional. No part of this website may be used to villify others or for criminal purposes. Interests: Travel, Food, Wines, Cooking, Wine Appreciation, Parachuting, Languages, Music, Reading, Swimming, Hunting, Ballet, Fencing, Archery, Anthropology and more... The Travelling Gourmet is a copyrighted trademark. All rights and photos reserved. No part may be reproduced without permission.
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