Two super shirazes from Hardy’s Tintara

Hardy’s Tintara senior winemaker and manager Paul Carpenter (Photo: Hardy’s Wines)

Paul Carpenter knows about red wine. He’s the senior winemaker at Hardy’s Tintara winery in McLaren Vale, where the output is 70% red.

Hardy’s has recently released two special McLaren Vale shirazes from the outstanding 2015 vintage to partner its flagship shiraz, the 2014 Eileen Hardy.

The 2015 Yeenunga shiraz is the first release of a single-vineyard wine sourced from an old contoured vineyard in the Seaview area, high above McLaren Vale at 350 metres, overlooking the Onkaparinga Gorge and St Vincent’s Gulf. The soil is lean, shallow red clay, which tends to make a highly structured wine with loads of personality. It boasts smoky, sooty, black fruits, chocolate, liquorice and char aromas; the palate firm and tight, powerful and long, intense and finely structured. (500 dozen made. AUD $80)

The 2015 Blewitt Springs Shiraz, part of an occasional subregional series, is rich, generous, with alcohol warmth and subtle spice, earth and leather notes. It’s from Penny’s vineyard, which is at 200 metres altitude on the typical sandy soil of the subregion. Planted in 1960, the vines are trained as bush vines (without trellising), which is common for grenache but unusual for shiraz. (300 dozen made. AUD $80)

As impressive as these two wines are, their big sister, Eileen Hardy 2014, is even better. And so it should be for AUD $125*. I’ve been following Eileen Hardy Shiraz since the earliest vintages in the 1970s, and while there have been some cracking wines along the way, I think today’s are the best yet. The fruit was always special, I suspect, but today’s winemaking is more sensitive, less interventionist, with gentler oak and tannin management, which allows the distinctiveness of the fruit’s aromas and flavours to take centre-stage.

It’s not always a single-vineyard wine but the ’14 is entirely from Bob Hardy’s Upper Tintara, the vineyard that always forms the wine’s core. The vines were planted in 1901, which means they were 113 years old when these grapes were picked. This is an immensely impressive wine of great power and volume. There should be a richer word than rich to do it justice. The concentration is staggering, the structure monumental. Smoky, sooty, earth and char, regional spice aromas with background dark berries. A great wine indeed. There is a special kind of density and fleshy texture that old-vine tannins give to a wine. This has them in spadefuls. Bravo, Mr Carpenter.

*It’s good value when compared to Grange, Hill of Grace and The Laird!

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