Import Selection: Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon, 1991. Hardys

Hardys is Australia’s second largest wine producer. The compa­ny dates back to 1953, when Thomas Hardy, just 23 years old, founded Bankside Cellars, three miles from Adelaide in the then “Colony of South Australia”. Ex­hibiting a pioneering spirit, an ex­cellent head for business and a nat­ural flair for wine making, the energetic young man from Devon, England prospered well. He sent his first vintage to England in 1957, to great acclaim. By the mid 1870s, he had acquired the Tintara Winery in McLaren Vale. This is one of Australia’s most famous wine districts, noted for its full bodied, traditional style Shiraz. In the years to come, his heirs would expand into yet more facilities.

Hardys Wines is still under family control five generations lat­er. The firm employs some of South Australia’s most accom­plished winemakers, who, through state of the art technology, produce an array of wines large enough to suit most palates and pocket books. It is at McLaren Vale that their range of distinctive red wines are produced.

Having arrived in Australia 150 years ago, the Shiraz grape distin­guishes itself as the country’s most widely planted red-wine grape, ac­counting for 40% of same. Its ori­gins trace back to ancient Persia (there still remains a city in Iran called “Shiraz”). Quite possibly this grape was first transported to France from there by ancient Greek or Roman travelers. One legend attributes its continental ar­rival to a returning Crusader who planted a vineyard on a steep hill­side and retired as a hermit. The “Hermitage” vineyard and the “Sy-rah” grape grown there produce the Australia’s greatest wines.

Only the free-wheeling Aussies would come up with the idea of blending the Cabernet Sauvignon grape (of Bordeaux origin) with the above variety. It seems most Australian wineries make such a wine while in California it is a rarity. This is a fine example of what is capable with the blend.

The wine has brilliant purple and garnet hues. Its penetrating nose features berries and cherries plus typical Syrah pepperiness. It is medium-bodied, mellow and full of fruit flavors, with a pleasant tartness. The Cabernet adds a touch of herbaceous complexity. In the finish one detects strawberry and spice. Easy to mistake for a Zinfandel!

Serve at room tempera­ture with barbequed pork chops, lamb chops and beef ribs.

Cellaring notes: Drinks well now, enjoy over next 2 years.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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