Since 1853, Thomas Hardy and the Hardys brand have been standing out from the Australian wine making crowd by utilising and blending grapes from the best regions on Australia. They celebrated this concept of outstanding wine and produce from the best Australian regions with The HRB Blended Lunch: A regional discovery of food and wine. We were educated in the art of blending wine by Hardys Chief Winemaker, Paul Lapsley, by breaking out the test tubes and wine glasses and having a blend ourselves which was a lot of fun. The components to making an amazing wine blend are as simple as the number of barrels you wish to create, what styles of wine you intend to blend and the consumer expectations. Lapsley let us in on the secrets of the three central beliefs he has about creating a beautiful blend. Firstly you have to understand the flavour you want to create and which wines you need to achieve that. Secondly, you need to believe in creating a wine with finesse and structure, no matter the price point of the final product. It’s important to be proud of what you create. Thirdly, you need to perfectly balance all the elements of the wine, from the type of barrel to the level of acidity, everything needs to be exact. To showcase their delicious wines from both the Hardys cellar stores and recent releases, these award winning wines were matched with a long lunch orchestrated by Andrew Davies, Executive Chef to Adelaide hotspots such as Osteria Oggi and press*. Expertly paired, these fresh dishes and palatable wines did their regions proud with some outstanding flavours.
The first course was the toasted lobster bun with cress served with the Hardys HRB D669 Riesling 2016. The Kangaroo Valley crayfish tail was wonderfully meaty yet still so tender. It was quite clear that this was a fresh catch, which was wrapped in a brioche slider and accentuated by the cucumber and greens. The Riesling that was paired with it, comprised of fruit from Clare Valley and Tasmania, brought light citrus notes and an acidic finish that cleansed the palate.
The second course was deep fried oysters with olive oil hollandaise, courgettes and a red wine sauce. The oysters were lightly fried to perfection, on a bed of smooth dollops of hollandaise. I found using the crumb to soak up the red wine sauce was the best way to get a taste of all the elements together. The creaminess of the hollandaise really blended with the Nashi pear and cream cheese notes from the Hardys HRB D665 Pinot Gris 2015 making it all to easy to enjoy these delicious morsels.
I was salivating waiting for the blue swimmer crab pasta to be served. As we entered the house at the start of the luncheon, Chef Andrew was freshly rolling and cutting the pasta so I knew that this was going to be a real treat. Fresh pasta, fresh crab meat and a fresh smile on my face is the simple way to describe this dish but truly made it special was the garlic and chilli sauce.
To enjoy this dish, we were treated to two glasses of chardonnay – the Hardys HRB D668 Chardonnay 2016 and the Hardys HRB D655 Chardonnay 2012. The 2016 was truly a testament of the blending style of Hardys, with fruits from the Yarra Valley, Margaret River, Pemberton, Tumbarumba and Adelaide Hills. They’ve truly taken the best regional fruit to create a wine with intense flavours of citrus and a cashew-like creaminess you would expect from a chardonnay. The gold medal winning 2012, having been been aged, had a more elegant peach and ginger flavours to it. The mixed mushroom ragu with polenta and truffled pecorino was a nice warming dish with earthy flavours. The polenta was smooth and creamy, teamed with the special truffled pecorino and meaty mushrooms it was simple but tasty. With a glass of the Yarra Valley meets Mornington Peninsula Hardys HRB D667 Pinot Noir 2016, with notes of red fruits like cherry and strawberry and the taste of autumnal spices, it would be the perfect combination to take the chill of an autumn evening.
Our final dish was rare roasted Clare Valley pigeon breast with gorgonzola gnocchi and date puree. Having never eaten pigeon before I did not know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. The meat was sealed and seasoned well and melted in your mouth. The heartiest dish of the day, the gnocchi with gorgonzola was not overwhelming and the date puree was another delightful element. It was a great way to round down the luncheon.
I enjoyed this with Hardys HRB D671 Shiraz 2015 and museum collection vintage 2008 Hardys HRB D646 Shiraz. The 2015 was a blend of chocolate notes from the McLaren Vale and structural tannins from the Clare Valley which made this a well balanced and tasty drop. The 2008, another gold medal winner, presents rich notes of mint and dark chocolate to dance across your palate. A soft, yet evolved Shiraz, the lengthy cellar time has done well for this blend. If we hadn’t already indulged enough, we were presented with a cheese board which comprised of a Fromage d’Affinois, a Gruyere and a Capra Ubraico al Traminer with crostini. Perhaps the most special wine of the day was presented with the cheese. The Hardys Rare Liqueur Sauvignon Blanc is a fortified wine made using grapes from the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines in Australia. It truly was the showstopper for me, beautiful rich notes of butterscotch and honeycomb and a delectability that left me wanting more.
Hardys and Chef Andrew truly put on a show, with great food and wine to watch the sun set over beautiful Whale Beach. The evening was perfectly balanced between amazing regional foods and beautiful blended wines. Cheers to great wine!
For more information on Hardys Wine, go to hardyswines.com