I always learn a thing, or two, from Norm Hardie and it’s fantastic to see his wines getting better and better with every each vintage.
His Prince Edward County wines are fairly low alcohol and the great winemaker is capitalizing on freshness and vibrancy to produce wines of the utmost elegance that possess unmistakable sense of origin and overall class. It is remarkable just how well this man manages tannins in his wines (“tannin is the polish” he is fond of sayong) most of his reds boast tannins that are the epiphany of smooth and delicate. The (red) wines are unfiltered, with no residual sugar, with not much sulphur added, and the oak regime is brilliantly figured out, providing excellent framework.
The 2011 County Pinot Noir proves all of the above, the bouquet showcasing sour red cherry hint, a distinct regional nuance; it is vivacious, pure and satiny, with an incredibly long finish; surely a grand cru of the genre!
It is clear to me that those who nose a great Cabernet Franc and say “bell pepper” are acting upon a learned response and nothing, but! Well made Cabernet Franc, like Norm’s 2011 County Unfiltered has no signs of “green” whatsoever, but is rather displaying an exotic array of blue and black fruit accents with underlying sage and cardamon tones; medium bodied and opulent with wonderful fruit purity and overall balance; 11.9% alc.; grapes come sourced from a single vineyard and I heard that the malolactic fermentation would not start until about late august 2012, when Hardie rolled out the barrels into position under the PEC sun… that’s rustic winemaking for you at its best… unbelievable! Also unbelievable that this wine is available to restaurants for a mere of $21, making an outstanding by-the-glass pour… food-friendliness in full effect!
Both wines receive five ripe red apples!
Zoltan Szabo is a Toronto-based sommelier and wine educator. Follow him on Twitter at @zoltanszabo.