Hardys Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2010

Hardys Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2010, Australia, 12.9%

(£30, Drinks Direct or use Wine Searcher)

Australian brand Hardys is a familiar name in wine. For one, it’s the biggest selling brand in the UK, shifting more than £315m-worth of wine last year. As sponsors of the England cricket team, its brilliantly judged ads play on the historic rivalry between the two nations.

But Hardys (part of the Accolade Wines’ group) isn’t just about volume and big ad spends. I recently spent a fascinating couple of hours tasting through 25 vintages of their top white, Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, back to the debut 1986 in the estimable company of various Hardy family members plus group white winemaker Tom Newton. It was a story told in wine, a window into how Australian Chardonnay has evolved from over-manipulated, relatively stodgy styles to elegant, carefully made wines sourced from cool climates, delivering a compelling combination of sweet fruit and savoury complexity.

My favourite wine of the line up was this 2010 – a beautiful balance between toasty richness and zingy, invigorating freshness. This particular blend of 72% Tasmania and 28% Yarra Valley fruit works well, the citric freshness of the former complemented by the riper fruit and mineral density of the latter. It’s drinking really well now but will improve over another 5-7 years if you have the patience (the current 2014 release is also delicious, but still very young). As Tom said, once open, the bottles have a tendency to ‘evaporate’ pretty quickly – and at around £20-25 it’s very decent value, if you can get hold of some. The 2014 Eileen Hardy Pinot Noir is well worth a try too. (8.5/10, Peter, July 2016)