26 September 2023

Top drops from a special winery

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By John Rozentals.

Thomas Hardy: “The father of the wine industry in South Australia.”

When Thomas Hardy migrated from England’s genteel Devon to South Australia in 1850 it must still have been a pretty wild place, a place full of potential but pretty wild nevertheless.

Still, the 20-year-old Hardy was an enterprising and ambitious young man, though it was doubtful that even in his wildest dreams he imagined himself being termed “the father of the wine industry in South Australia”.

But that is what young Thomas became, largely through hard work and investment of hard-earned money.

He soon owned Bankside, a horticultural property on the side of the Torrens, the river that occasionally seems to run through Adelaide, and its grapevines became of special interest to him.

In 1876, Thomas Hardy expanded into McLaren Vale by purchasing the Tintara Vineyard Company and in less than 20 years was the largest winemaker in the colony.

He transformed an old flour mill in the settlement’s main street into The Hardys Tintara winery and his success soon led to the growth of McLaren Vale, which has become a powerhouse of Australian viticulture.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Hardy also started a dynasty which became central to the Australian wine scene and well beyond.

Indeed, one of its current members, Sir James Hardy, gained his knighthood as much for his services to the sport of sailing as to the wine industry.

He has sailed in Admirals Cups, the Americas Cup and the Olympics.


Hardy 2017 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay ($118): Born in 1893, Eileen married Tom Mayfield Hardy and assumed a prominent management role in the company after her husband was killed in the Kyeema air crash of 1938. This dry white, from Hardys’ top range, shows remarkable complexity and is made from cool-climate fruit gown in Tasmania, the Yarra Valley and near Tumbarumba. It is layered, powerful and elegant — and the perfect match for richly sauced white-meat dishes

Hardy 2018 HRB Clare Valley Tasmania Riesling ($35): The HRB stands for “Heritage Reserve Bin”. South Australia’s Clare Valley has long been known as one of the country’s leading area for riesling. Tasmania shows great promise with the variety. The result of the blend is a delicious amalgam of minerally fruit flavours that lean towards they limey end of the spectrum. As always with white wines from this variety it is an ideal match for simply grilled white-fleshed fish such as whiting or bream.


Hardy 2016 Eileen Hardy Shiraz ($154): Expensive, but only by Australian standards, this dry red is made from the top McLaren Vale fruit at the company’s disposal. It is highlighted by powerful aromas of plums and spices, fine tannins and great prospects. It is rich, powerful, complex … and delicious. Another glass please. Save it for the best steak you can afford after splurging out on a bottle. Make a bit of reduction sauce from the wine, serve the steak simply grilled and preferably rare.

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