Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A lovely lunch with Hardys fine wines

I'm not a wine expert. I'm just a regular person who loves good food and drink. Albeit I've attended a wine workshop and wine appreciation lectures in the past, I regret to say that I'm still not a wine connoisseur by any measure.

Hardys Stamp Riesling Gewurtztraminer white wineI was invited to an intimate lunch with Hardys fine wines last November 16, 2009 at The Oakroom, Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center's fine dining restaurant. This being a wine event, we were welcomed with glasses of Hardys Stamp Riesling Gewurtzraminer (pictured above). Riesling Gewurtzaminer is a sweet and fruity white wine which I really, really loved. Like most wine novices, I preferred the sweeter wines which are more like sparkling fruit juice rather than alcohol. A bottle of Hardys Riesling Gewurtzraminer costs only P300+. I'm really quite easy to please when it comes to wine.

The highlight of the event was the presence of Bill Hardy (pictured above on the right with James Du Vivier on the left) 5th generation, and currently the brand ambassador of Hardys. Bill talked about how his family's wine business got started, the challenges they faced along the way, and their current position as one of Australia's top brands of wine.

Bill was a very amicable fellow. After his talk, he went around the tables to sit and chat with the guests, entertaining questions and queries.

Gourmet Salad with Shaved Smoked Duck Breast and Duck Terrine on Mesclun Leaves, French Beans, and Truffle Xeres Dressing at The Oakroom
Then came my favorite part -- food and wine pairing! For every course we had, a matching wine was served. First up was Gourmet Salad with Shaved Smoked Duck Breast and Duck Terrine on Mesclun Leaves, French Beans, and Truffle Xeres Dressing (pictured above). Such a long name for mixed greens, cubes of liver paté, duck meat, and what seemed like vinaigrette. I didn't taste any truffle in the dressing unfortunately. Anyways, the salad was served with Hardys Nottage Hill Chardonnay. The chardonnay was markedly stronger and more tart compared to the sweet Riesling Gewurtztraminer but it complemented the salad rather nicely. A bottle of Hardys Nottage Hill Chardonnay costs somewhere between P400-P500.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Shallot Sauce, Mini Vegetables, and Sauteed Potatoes at The Oakroom
We had Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Shallot Sauce, Mini Vegetables, and Sauteed Potatoes (pictured above right) for the main course served with Hardys Nottage Hill Shiraz (pictured above left) -- our first sampling of red wine. The Shiraz was as expected, even stronger than the Chardonnay. I could feel my face getting hot as it was my third glass of wine already. I'm more of a white wine person since I prefer its lighter taste.

Hardys HRB D638 Chardonnay and Chocolate and Grand Marnier BruleeFor dessert, Chocolate and Grand Marnier Brulee was served. I'm not fond of Creme Brulee since it's usually too sweet and sore-throat inducing but wow, this particular Brulee was absolutely heavenly. It was very creamy with just the right level of sweetness, plus it had rich milk chocolate swirls inside. It was sooo good. I literally scraped my bowl clean because I couldn't get enough of it. The Oakroom's Chocolate and Grand Marnier Brulee definitely has my vote for the best brulee ever.

By this time, they were getting ready to serve the wines which they were planning to launch in the Philippines, the new Hardys HRB (Heritage Reserve Bin) comprised of Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon. What makes the HRB line special is that it showcases the famous Hardys tradition of blending grapes from different regions to produce innovative new wines. Hardys HRB wines would cost around P1000+ per bottle.

I asked Bill to elaborate a bit more on how blending is done. Basically, Hardys would have vineyards and wineries in differen areas. After the wine is made, one of its components is transferred to another location where the other wine is located. They are put together, or blended, during the cold months after vintage. The wines would need time to merge and mature together in order to create a smooth blend. Mixing up two fully mature wines and then putting the result in a bottle would not work -- it would yield a disjointed wine.

We were served the Hardys HRB D638 Chardonnay and the Hardys HRB D636 Shiraz. These were even more... hardcore (for the lack of a better term) than all the previous wines served. I still very much prefer my Hardys Stamp Riesling Gewurtzraminer though, even if the HRB's are triple the price. :p

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