Call me Bill: William Hardy from Hardy Wines.For the 40 years he has been in the Australian wine game, winemaker Bill Hardy at Hardys Wines has always been called Bill. Just Bill. He introduces himself as Bill, responds when being addressed as Bill, signs letters as Bill and indeed, with his ready boyish smile, you might even suggest he looks like a Bill.
So why call a wine label struck for the company’s 160th birthday and named in his honour, ”the William Hardy range”?
It’s a bit of a puzzle. The range, now in Australia, was initially launched last year in Britain, where Hardys Wines is that country’s biggest-selling wine brand. Was it because the more formal moniker, one that shares a connection with royalty, would help fuel sales? No, the marketing department tells me ”William” had a better ring to it.
Hardys’ decision in releasing a tranche of William Hardy $21 wines in its 160th year is in keeping with its down-to-earth, drinker’s friend reputation.
For its 155th birthday it brought out not one but two new ranges priced under $30 a bottle, The Chronicles and Heritage Reserve Bin. No new glitzy flagships, just some good, everyday drinking wines.
Hardys is now looking for a wine to take drinkers from its standard Nottage Hill and Oomoto more profitable pastures. The William Hardy range is that stepping stone. No matter the Hardy family no longer has a significant role in the company, run by the very large Accolade Wines owned by private equity company CHAMP. No matter Bill Hardy is no longer a full-time winemaker but rather the brand’s ambassador.
The Hardy name resonates – for 160 years it has been producing wines of solid quality, most of that time with a member of the Hardy family at the helm or involved in the winery or on the board. Its use-by date isn’t up just yet.
Veteran Hardys white winemaker Tom Newton tapped into a variety back at the top of its game – chardonnay – and a variety that now assumes the mantle of underdog in Australia – sauvignon blanc – for the first release of the William Hardy whites.
Both the 2012 sauvignon blanc and 2012 chardonnay hail from the Adelaide Hills. Bill Hardy approves of the connection. ”My great-great-grandfather made wine from the Adelaide Hills back in the 19th century,” he said at the wine launch last month.
In the 1870s Thomas Hardy reportedly sourced grapes from 40 growers on the Adelaide plains and hills.
It has to be said, no doubt much to the chagrin of the growing Anything but Sauv Blanc brigade, that the grape looks bright and super sharp in Newton’s hands, bristling with tropical fruits, a light varietal grassiness and a mouthfeel courtesy of the winemaker working the lees (wine sediment of dead yeast cells, seeds, pulp), as he readily suggests, “heavily”.
Newton’s lees work is also evident in the 2012 chardonnay, providing attractive creaminess and texture, but there’s less of the brightness associated with the sauv blanc. Chief winemaker Paul Lapsley was behind the two William Hardy reds, a 2012 Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon and 2012 Barossa Valley shiraz.
The William Hardy range promises to grow in number, with possibly a pinot grigio to come and maybe a pinot noir.
The man behind the label is done proud, though he might wonder at its formality. “William is the name my wife uses when I’m in deep s—,” he quipped at the launch. Naming wines after various family members is a bit of a Hardys tradition.
The Nottage Hill label was struck in 1967 to celebrate the 60-year career of Thomas Hardy Nottage. Sir James (Jim) Hardy lends his name to the company bubbles and Eileen Hardy brings the lone touch of femininity with her own flagship label. William “Bill” Hardy completes the circle.
”In my family, after 40 years in business you either retire or die,” Bill Hardy says. ”To have a wine named after me while I am still working is nice.”Hardys: 160 years and counting …
1853: English immigrant Thomas Hardy buys land on the River Torrens at Adelaide and plants vines and fruit trees.
1857: Hardy makes his first vintage.
1876: Buys Tintara winery, stocks and vineyard at McLaren Vale.
1918: Buys grapes in the Barossa Valley. A winery follows.
1992: Thomas Hardy & Sons merges with Berri Renmano Ltd and becomes BRL Hardy, Australia’s second-largest wine company.
2003: Constellation Wines buys BRL Hardy for $1.9 billion. In 2008 BRL Hardy takes new name, Constellation Wines Australia (CWA).
2011: CWA is sold to CHAMP Private Equity and renamed Accolade Wines.
2013: Celebrates 160 years. CHAMP Private Equity announces $17.5 million investment to revitalise the Hardys brand.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.