Cool climate: just a white trend?

Cool climate may be a hot topic for white wines, but the trend has less commercial appeal for Australia’s red styles, believes Bill Hardy, winemaker and brand ambassador for Hardys.

Bill Hardy, winemaker and brand ambassador at Hardys

This year’s ProWein saw the brand launch its William Hardy range with a 2011 Chardonnay and 2010 Shiraz, which Hardy described as “cool area dominant,” explaining: “We’re trying to produce a wine that’s finer, more elegant and has a seriousness to it.

With an RRP of £8.99, the new range has been designed to offer a stepping stone between the Hardys Crest and Oomoo ranges.

The 2011 Chardonnay incorporates fruit from Wrattonbully, Padthaway and, as a result of the widespread cool, wet conditions that year, which caused problems for so many Australian winemakers, a 20% weighting from McLaren Vale.

“Normally it’s too warm there, but it worked really well,” said Hardy of the region, which is where the brand has its roots and also provides the majority of the fruit for the William Hardy 2010 Shiraz.

Although admitting a personal fondness for Australia’s cool climate reds, Hardy remarked: “I’m not sure about them commercially.

Despite a small but growing UK following for styles such as Yarra Valley Shiraz and Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir, Hardy argued: “I think most consumers expect that body and warmth from Australia,” suggesting: “I don’t think too many people are ready to go for lighter, savoury reds out of Australia.”

However, noted Hardy of his company’s own approach, “We are certainly trying to incorporate more savoury elements,” pointing to the company’s increased use of varieties such as Tempranillo and Sangiovese, which he described as “small components to introduce slightly drier elements.”

Commenting more generally on the trend towards cool climate styles from Australia, Hardy highlighted in particular the increased commercial importance of the Limestone Coast.

Picking out Padthaway as “a real engine room,” Hardy said of this region: “Really the development there has been by big companies; there are 15-20,000 acres and no more than a dozen or so owners.”

While acknowledging that “the reliance on those warm areas is shrinking,” Hardy noted that within his own company, which today forms part of Accolade Wines, “there is still a preponderance of warm, inland fruit.”

In total he estimated that these warmer regions currently make up around 85% of the Hardys output, thanks largely to its bigger volume varietal and Hardys Stamp ranges.

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