Hardys Nottage Hill Chardonnay 2012, Australia

Cost: $12-14

What: Sometimes–especially in summer–you are looking for a nice sipable wine that doesn’t overtax the taste buds. Nottage Hill Chardonnay is the perfect wine for those situations, loaded with smooth citrus flavor and just complex enough to be interesting.

It’s a dry, full-bodied wine that opens with peach and nectarine aromas with a whiff of toasted oak. The flavor balances stone fruit and citrus leading to a smooth, lingering finish. The tannins are well-integrated and hardly noticeable. It has good acidity to give the fruit some backbone.

Hardys Nottage Hill Chardonnay
Hardys Nottage Hill Chardonnay

The grapes come from South Eastern Australia, in an area called Riverland, which is known for consistently sunny days and optimal growing conditions.

The wine was an outstanding complement to a seafood dinner, but we also loved it as an aperitif with wine and cheese. It is a versatile wine.

I couldn’t determine how long the wine was aged in oak, but it had the creamy, buttery mouthfeel that is typical with oak aging and malolactic fermentation. I also wouldn’t be surprised if some portion of the wine was fermented in stainless steel because the wine has a great combination of creamy mouthfeel and sharp, tart acidity.

You could cellar this wine for a year or two, but I would drink it young, while it is vibrant and fresh. Serve well chilled.

Winery: Thomas Hardy and Sons was founded by Thomas Hardy in 1853 in Adelaide and grew to become Australia’s largest winemaker. In 2011 the company was sold, along with Constellation Europe, to the Australian private company CHAMP Private Equity and was renamed Accolade Wines.

Accolade is a global wine company with well-known brands in 80 countries.

Teri enjoyed her scallops with bacon.
Teri enjoyed her scallops with bacon.

Thomas Hardy left England to make his fortune in Australia in 1850. After making some money as a butcher he bought land and planted his first vines in 1854. The first vintage was 1857 and was the first significant quantity of wine shipped to England from Australia.

The company grew explosively during the rest of the 19th Century and Thomas brought his sons into the business. Thomas Hardy, regarded as the father of the wine industry in South Australia, died in 1908, but his family carried on into the sixth generation.

Though Shiraz and Grenache were the main grapes planted in Hardy’s early years, the company now makes a wide variety of wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Rose, sparkling wines and several Shiraz blends.

The Nottage Hill line is named after Thomas Hardy Nottage, a cousin of the Hardys who began a 60-year career with the company in 1884. The first Nottage Hill wine was released in 1967. The brand is known for consistency, balance and an approachable style.

Lobster and shrimp pasta on the Sunset Terrace with Teri.
Lobster and shrimp pasta on the Sunset Terrace with Teri.

Goes with: Even though this is an inexpensive wine it was a perfect special occasion wine. My wife Teri and I brought it with us to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., where we joined their 100th anniversary celebrations.

We had it one night in our room with cheese and crackers while we watched a summer storm sweep over the mountains and valley. It was a hypnotic moment with an excellent wine.

The next night was even better when we drank it with our dinner on the spectacular Sunset Terrace. Teri had a scallop dish covered in bacon and I had lobster tail and shrimp on a bed of creamy pasta. The citrus flavors were perfect for mingling with the shellfish and the sauces. We both thought it was a terrific wine.

It also would be good with fish, chicken and other light foods.

Sunset Terrace gave us a good view of the storm moving in from Asheville.
Sunset Terrace gave us a good view of the storm moving in from Asheville.

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