It was the ‘first ball’ of the ‘second over’ by Glenn McGrath. Quite expectedly, the ‘line and length’ was consistent, coherent with his reputation of being one of the greatest bowlers of cricketing history.
Before you wonder why I am talking cricket in a wine blog, let me put things in perspective. With Glenn McGrath donning the Hardys attire frequently in his role as brand ambassador, similies like these are bound to arise. The ‘second over’ in the present context was the official launch of William Hardy Range (WHR) of wines in India, the first one being when McGrath arrived last year to launch the “Art of Cricket” collection reported earlier in this space. On a three city tour to Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata, McGrath wowed wine lovers of all hues, whether cricket fans or not. I found my privileged place in the Delhi edition courstey Prarrthona Pal Chowdhury, the mercurial General Manager – International Brands & Trade Marketing Sula Vineyards, the import partner of Hardys in India.
The William Hardy Range
The launch of WHR in India was impending ever since William (Bill) Hardy himself came visiting the country in the autumn of 2015 to introduce his eponymous label in person. The collection, which is in line with Hardys precedence of honouring its generational icons with dedicated labels was initially launched in 2012, the year the brand completed 160 years and when Bill, a fifth generation family member, completed 40 years of dedicated service to the business.
During Bill’s visit, I also had the opportunity to interact one-on-one with him, and get first hand knowledge on WHR wines, along with tasting these wines (notes given towards the end of this post) . Those interested, please read about my personal rendezvous with Bill Hardy in details here.
About the Range
In summary, the WHR comprises of single varietal- single region wines, intended to grow with the years to match the stature of their prestige wines like the Eileen Hardy (named after Bill’s grandmother) range. Two wines- a Chardonnay from the Limestone Coast and a Shiraz from McLaren Vale, form this range. The wines conform to Hardys philosophy of blending between different vineyards to get the best out of various terroirs. Hardys Chief Winemaker Paul Lapsley has blended cuvées from prestigious cool as well as warm climate parcels in order to come up with wines that deliver great depth and intensity of flavour.”
The Launch Event
The arrival of WHR wines in India was formally announced at a dinner, jointly organized by Sula wines, ITC Maurya and Delhi Wine Club. Ottimo Cucina Italiana- an Italian speciality restaurant situated on the 18thfloor of the hotel offered a panoramic view of Delhi, even as the guests reveled interacting with McGrath- a revered icon of cricket playing nations like India. Wines from Hardys “Stamp” and “Art of Cricket” collection were served during the evening, since the WHR wines are currently in the final stages of reaching the Indian market after meeting the regulatory requirements. A vast range of fine Italian food comprising of pastas, grills, charcuterie, cheeses and breads kept the wines in good company.
Ann Marie-Sharp, representative from Accolade Wines, the umbrella organization for Hardys, told me that after Bill’s visit last year, they pragmatically studied the Indian market and felt that the time was just ripe to introduce the WHR wines. She further informed that these wines take Hardys offering in India a notch higher than their already available range with the retail price of each of these wines ex Delhi, being ₹ 2500.00. Excise being a state subject in India, the wines are priced lesser in Chennai (₹ 970.00) and Kolkata (₹ 1900.00). So Chennai wine lovers have one more reason to be happy other than McGrath’s association with the MRF Pace Academy in the city.
The wines will also be available in other major cities including Mumbai and Bangalore.
William Hardy Chardonnay
The grapes for this wine have been sourced from the famous Limestone Coast region. The cool coastal climate allows the grapes to naturally ripen slowly and thereby intensify the flavours.WH Chardonnay is full bodied,with citrus and stone fruit flavours, notably peaches. Subtle oak highlights give it an extra character. A good match with pasta and creamy dishes.
William Hardy Shiraz
Made with grapes from McLaren Vale, Clare Valley & Frankland River- the best growing regions for Shiraz, this deep ruby coloured wine has a vibrant nose of blackberry, plum and cinnamon. The palate is intense and lush with soft velvety tannins and a long finish. The wine will work well with tandoori and other robust Indian preparations like chicken tikka, mah ki dal- tandoori roti (slow cooked black lentils with butter stirred in, accompanied by clay oven flat bread) and likewise.