Portfolio Tasting with Norman Hardie, Barque Smokehouse, January 23, 2012

Norman Hardie flaunts an unbiased instinct for what is genuinely evolving as Ontario wine, be it good or bad.  He is both chemist and magician, pundit and critic. For better or for worse he is Matt Kramer’s (WS) boy now, a nuptial trafficker of both Niagara and Prince Edward County fruit, authoring with bravado, crafting with passion. Wild West meets intellectual East, winemaker as Steinbeck or London, possessed with an honest will to hunt down the object of his life. 

Hardie and his king assistant Richard sat down with JB and I at Barque on an afternoon amid this winter of our discontent.  A six strong John Barleycorn tasting, in temperament but not volume.  Limestone soils are forever in his discourse, he a Hagrid of experiential vinification.  His wines are made of a man, “yes I am and I can’t help but love you so.”

RIESLING 2010 ($21) is cracker jack lemon/lime p.e.c. punch, the sprite as foil to niagara’s sharp, propellant fruit. diesel charged to run a unimog.  89

CHARDONNAY PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY 2010 (149054, $35.20) bends chablis, in specie côte de léchet, calling to mind defaix. minerals as fulvous fluid liquid. this is hardie’s immigrant song “from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.”  88

CHARDONNAY UUNFILTERED NIAGARA PENINSULA 2009 ($35) may mince meursault and mâcon but the proof is in the must. sumptuous loam, an onguiaahra sweat lodge made of birch and poplar. most wines give you only of themselves – this one gives you the wide world.  91

PINOT NOIR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY 2010 ($35) should appeal to my childhood neighbour, he who created the “not ready for prime time player.” speaks proudly at 11.9% abv from vines “not quite there” admits norm, but like our sugaring maples these creepers will one day help to define our land. uncluttered, modish, honest.   87

PINOT NOIR UNFILTERED NIAGARA PENINSULA 2009 ($39) at 0.5% higher alcohol tepidly ramps up the texture quotient, runs deeper routes yet remains the antithesis of california pinot relish. countenance of subtlety, soft peddling and sober.   89

CABERNET FRANC PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY 2010 (237123, $25) from the foster vineyard in p.e.c. displays flavours so pointed they fell me.  oak loyalty to a stern grape, ode to cherry, currant and cinnabar chinon. smokier fruit here, deeper than your average bourgueil and smarter than your average bear.   90

Good to go!

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