A beautiful angular and mineral-driven Chardonnay with classic lemon-lime citrus notes that one associates with Prince Edward County. Norm has tasted this against many of the great 2018 Burgundian Chardonnays and the wine more than holds its ground.
Within Prince Edward County we’ve chosen some of the best sites that contain the highest ratio of fractured limestone to clay. This fractured limestone is what you would find in the great white sites in Loire Valley, Burgundy, Chablis, and Northern Rome. As wine lovers know, the starting point for great flavour is in the soil. Having some of the best soils in the world gives us a distinct advantage.
2017 was a near perfect vintage in Prince Edward County with long, warm days and cool nights with little rain. Our 2017 County Chardonnay is possibly one of the most precise and mineral driven wines we have ever made. At a low alcohol of 12.5%, this is partly due to natural yeast fermentation, customary low yields, and the fruit achieving phenolic ripeness ahead of sugar ripeness. The wine saw a full 18 months in French 500L oak barrels before being bottled. The additional oak ageing is contrary to mainstream winemaking, however, after seeing how well our 2015 Cuvee Des Amis matured through 18 months of oak, we decided to follow suit. We followed maturation of the wine in oak very closely to ensure we would oak just enough and not over oak the wine. This is ironic as people ask if the wine is unoaked!
Chardonnay was grown on 5 separate sites, all within 2km of the winery. Clonal selection was 80% clone 76 and 20% clone 95. The idea of blending the sites is to build complexity and richness from slightly different terroirs. Gentle, whole-cluster pressing of the fruit into horizontal stainless steel tanks where fermentation starts with indigenous yeasts from each individual vineyard block. Fermenting juice was then transferred to 500L French oak barrels to complete ferment. The new oak component being 25%, the rest being 2nd, 3rd, 4th fill or older. Larger format barrels are used as a medium for better oak integration. Wine spent 10 months in oak before being transferred to stainless steel, on lees for an additional two months. The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered with a minimum sulphur dose before bottling.
Richard Hemming , Jancis Robinson
Expressive saline, marine aromas on the nose, plus subtly toasted spices and ripe green apples. So well realised on the palate, with tons of flavour in a featherweight structure. Has all the hallmarks of top Chardonnay: lees flavour, balanced oak, appetisingly savoury fruit and that delectable mineral finish.
David Lawrason , WineAlign
The 2016 has all the great linearity, tension and complexity of its predecessors. Expect very lifted, piquant aromas of flint, toast, apple and lemon, so well woven that they are actually hard to distinguish. It is light to medium bodied, with great acidity and the same sense of cohesion and grip on the palate, plus that unrelenting finish. Great minerality here. Tasted April 2018
County chardonnay was grown on 5 separate sites, all within 2km of the winery. We blend the sites to build complexity and richness from slightly different terroirs. The wine started fermentation in horizontal stainless steel tanks and finished in 500L French Oak barrels. The new oak component being approximately 30%. Larger format barrels are used as a medium for better oak integration. The wine went sulfur free for a year and was bottle unfined and unfiltered.
John Szabo MS , WineAlign
From four sites all around the winery. Aged in predominantly 500l barrels, of which around 1/3 were new. Malo didn't totally finish after four months in tank (sitting at warm temperatures no less), yet this was still bottled unfiltered. "We rolled the dice" says Hardie, in reference to the risks of refermentation, but this appears completely stable; there were small additions of SO2 at bottling. This has the steely edge of the County, crystalline, with an unusual honeyed edge (for Hardie) at this early stage. Wood is a minor factor, with an intense lick of limestone. Excellent length and depth. I love the minty freshness and the life and crackling energy here. 800 cases made. Tasted December 2016.
Chardonnay was grown on 5 separate sites, all within 2km of the winery. Clonal selection was 80% clone 76 and 20% clone 95. The idea of blending the sites is to build complexity and richness from slightly different terroirs. The wine started fermentation in horizontal stainless steel tanks and finished in primarily 500L French Oak barrels. The new oak component being approximately 30%. Larger format barrels are used as a medium for better oak integration. The wine went sulphur free for a year and was bottle unfined and unfiltered.
100% County fruit, about half of which is estate-grown, harvested in mid-September. Our County Chardonnay went through a wild fermentation that started in tank and finished in French oak, half the barrels being 228 l and the other half 500 l barrels. After fermentation the wine was aged in barrel for 10 months on original lees. Natural malolactic fermentation followed by a minimal sulphur addition when taken out of barrel in late July. Bottled unfiltered and unfined.
County Chardonnay is made from locally grown Chardonnay, including our own estate fruit. The wine is delicately oaked in large, 500 litre French oak barrels. The 2011 growing season was a cool year. The juice was partially fermented in stainless steel to preserve freshness and then transferred to barrel where it aged for 9 months. The wine was aged on lees for an additional month in stainless steel. The wine remained sulphur free for 10 months. A small amount of sulphur was added at the end of August prior to bottling. The wine was bottle unfiltered.
Light straw in colour with a greenish hue; a minerally nose of green apple with an engaging note of white flowers. Soft mid-palate but finishes crisply.
Jamie Goode , The Wine Anorak
Nutty, mealy richness to the nose with some precise pear and white peach fruit, as well as some spicy minerality and a flinty edge. The palate is supple and pure with some precision and freshness. Lovely weight.
This wine was exceptionally well received by top sommeliers in Ontario, who have had great experience with traditional Burgundy. In Quebec, where the top sommelier and public palates have experienced a lot of old-world Burgundy, this wine was truly embraced and was placed in numerous top restaurants.
Having believed so strongly in this controversial wine, our faith in our vinification and approach to expressing the greatness of Prince Edward County was cemented this summer, when Matt Kramer, the author of Making Sense of Burgundy and Columnist in Wine Spectator, visited our winery and tasted this wine. When he tasted his eyes lit up, he went back to the glass numerous times as he acquainted himself well with the wine. He said this is one of the best new-world Chardonnay’s he has ever tasted and would fit beautifully in a line-up of arguably one of Burgundy’s best producers, Coche-Dury. It is important to dig deep into the glass and taste a true expression of our calcareous limestone terroir. This wine was made on the edge, utilizing a strong lees component to truly express the soil it came from. For those who are accustomed to drinking Californian and Australian Chardonnays this wine is the antithesis. The wine truly expresses the terroir of Prince Edward County.
Matt Kramer , Wine Spectator
Wine of the Year
The Chardonnays emerging from Hardie’s small vineyard in Prince Edward County (he also buys grapes from the Niagara Peninsula area two hours away) are laser-etched with acidity, minerality and the sort of originality that we all once thought only Burgundy could deliver.
Chris Waters , Waters and Wine
An unmistakable gunsmoke, flinty note greets you on the nose of this mineral-rich model of Chardonnay before giving way to refreshing citrus and stone fruit aromas. The palate also leads with complex earthy, mineral notes that gain lift from the wine’s remarkable lemon/lime character. The result is an engaging Chardonnay with an appealing ying-yang personality of richness and intensity.
Jamie Drummond , Good Food Revolution
The nose gives one citrus, apricot and stones. Simple enough you may think?… but no… The wine shows reserve but at the same time exhibits some fascinatingly complex gunsmoke aromatics that may puzzle the uninitiated. The extended lees contact so apparent in many of Norm’s wines in many ways evident here, but a little less prevalent that in previous years, bringing a pleasant texture to the glass. On the focused palate there an incredible vitality, particularly on the back of the palate, the expression of true terroir that many Winemakers see as the holy grail. Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon goes as far as calling this enigmatic component a wine’s “Life Force”. I find this vintage of County Chardonnay very exciting indeed