Thursday night, Prince Edward County winemaker Norman Hardie shared his wares with a crowd of admiring fans at Barberian’s Steakhouse in Toronto. Throngs of people jammed into the restaurant’s spectacular two-story wine cellar to taste the current offerings from Norman Hardie’s eponymous winery. For a little background information on Norman Hardie, read my post called, “Norman Hardie Cuvee L Pinot Noir – A Tale of Two Regions”.
All the wines sampled were from the 2008 and 2009 vintages and it was very interesting to taste the differences between these two years. The summer of 2008 was quite wet and required careful vineyard management to encourage grape ripening. All the hard work put in by Norm and his team paid off, with the grapes being made into slightly lighter wines with pretty aromatics. The summer of 2009 started out poorly with a cool, wet spring. July and the beginning of August didn’t seem much better. But, by the end of August, the skies had cleared and warmer weather had returned. September was beautiful – warm and sunny – pushing the grapes to ripen, and saving the vintage. In the end, the harvest was only a few days later than normal. I helped pick grapes for Norm in 2009, and was very surprised to see the grapes had no rot at all and looked amazingly healthy (Read “Helping with the Harvest at Norman Hardie Winery“). Norm had mentioned that Prince Edward County did not receive the same amount of rainfall as the rest of the province. The 2009 Pinot Noirs tend to be a bit rounder than the 2008s.
2009 Pinot Gris: Not much of this tasty Pinot Gris was made – only 90 cases. Lots of fresh fruit aromas of melon and citrus with a distinctive mineral note. Very refreshing. Even those of us who might not be big Pinot Gris fans will like this one. $25
County Chardonnay 2009: Even less of this wine was made – 85 cases! Buy it quick if you’re interested. It’s sure to sell out fast. Lots of juicy yellow fruit and tons of minerality from the limestone soil it’s grown on. Chablis-like acidity and a little oak make this a very tasty Chardonnay. $35
Chardonnay 2008: This is a wonderful Chardonnay. As I tasted it, I pictured myself back at the dining room table at La Roche d’Hys, in Burgundy, sipping one of the region’s local wines. Great concentration of fruit and that cool-climate Chardonnay-minerality, with a little toasty caramel on the finish. Even Jancis Robinson, liked it, giving it a 17.5/20! $35 Incidentally, this is one of the Canadian Chardonnays to be showcased in New York City this March. For the full list of wines, go to Tony Aspler’s website.
Cuvee “L” Chardonnay 2008: Made from a blend of 65% Niagara fruit and 35% Prince Edward County fruit. A complex wine, full of pear, yellow apple, lemon rind, dried pineapple, sweet vanilla, and yes…with a minerally character, and a slight smokiness on the long finish. This Norm’s other Chardonnay going to New York in March. $49
County Pinot Noir 2008: Loads of red berries and pretty floral aromas. Crunchy cherries, cranberries, and strawberries, with a little rhubarb and mineral. This wine is almost sold out, so act fast if you want some. $35
County Pinot Noir 2009: Ripe red berry fruit, violets, and a touch of spice. A bit fuller, with a rounder texture, and slightly more concentrated than the 2008. Good length. $35
Pinot Noir 2008: The grapes for this wine come from Niagara. Aromas of ripe cherry and red fruit dominate. This Pinot has more body and concentration than the 2008 County Pinot Noir. $39
Pinot Noir 2009: Grapes from a vineyard located in St. David’s Bench, Niagara, were used in this wine. Darker fruit aromas than the 2008, with some blackberry, spice, and a hint of licorice, with a pleasant cherry finish. $39
Cabernet Franc 2009: I had no idea that Norman Hardie made a Cabernet Franc until Thursday night. Apparently he also made one in 2005. The fruit comes from the vineyard right next to his Pinot Noir vineyard in Prince Edward County. This wine has a lovely perfume of flower petals, spicy red fruit, and that tell-tale Cab Franc aroma of lead pencil shavings. The tannins are ripe and well-integrated. A very nice Cabernet Franc at the very reasonable price of $25!
All the wines sampled at the tasting are available for purchase through the winery while supplies last. They’ll deliver anywhere in Ontario and mixed cases are allowed.