A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
Bill Hardy, the fifth generation descendent of Thomas Hardy, who founded the original company, was in London today (October 9) to unveil the new premium wines which have been named after him.
The William Hardy Chardonnay and Shiraz have gained listings in Tesco in the UK and have been available in the travel retail stores at London Heathrow and Gatwick airports as well as on the Viking line ferries in Finland. Accolade Wines senior brand manager, Deborah Zbinden confirmed that William Hardy is already available in Denmark and the Netherlands
The wines boast more fruit from cool climate regions to give the blend more elegance and style. The William Hardy 2011 Chardonnay contains wines from areas such as Padthaway, Wrattonbully and McLaren Vale. The 2010 Shiraz contains a significant component from McLaren Vale but also Clare Valley and Riverland.
The William Hardy tier lies above the VR, Stamp, Nottage Hill and Crestranges but below the top-of-the-range Eileen and Thomas Hardy icon wines.
At the same time, Paul Schaafsma, Accolade Wines’ recently appointed general manager for UK, Ireland, Africa, Middle East and South America, told Drinks International that the Hardy’s range, which is the best selling wine brand in the UK, forms part of his strategic review, having recently left Hardy’s rival, Australian Vintage.
The 62-year-old Hardy is a master blender, having studied in Bordeaux and done the 1973 vintage at chateaux Bouscaut and Haut Brion. He cited a winemaker at the champagne house Mumm who said vintage champagne “looked after itself” but non vintage blends were the the real challenge. Hardy said the unnamed chef de cave said single vineyard/single vintages were like soloists but non vintage and a blend was the “whole bloody orchestra”.
“You have great single vineyards but if you have several you get a wine that is better than the single components,” said Hardy.
Hardy said that the Australian still dominates the UK wine market with around a 20% share and Hardy’s is the number one brand within that. Despite at one time being owned by the US drinks giant, Constellation, Hardy’s is an insignificant brand in the US. Now that Accolade has bought the Geyser Peak and Atlas peak brands, he is hoping the brand will be abled to tap into those brands’ distribution networks.
He told Drinks International that the company has offices in Singapore, Japan and China and although small, the brand is the largest Australian brand in countries such as Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Thailand.