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Ox Hardy: When destiny comes calling

Andrew ‘Ox’ Hardy is writing a new chapter in the long and distinguished history of South Australia’s Hardy family wine dynasty. Explore our Ox Hardy portfolio here.

UTV Hill View - John Kruger

UTV Hill View - Photo by John Kruger

It was big news last year when Andrew Hardy left Petaluma, where he began his illustrious 36-year winemaking career under Brian Croser in 1982, and where he returned as chief winemaker in 2004 after a decade at Knappstein in the Clare Valley.

We know now that destiny had come calling, in the form of a project involving the Hardy family’s flagship vineyard at Upper Tintara in McLaren Vale.

Andrew’s late father, Bob Hardy, had long been custodian of the famous property, purchased by Thomas Hardy in 1873, and which remains in Hardy family hands. It’s been the source of Eileen Hardy Shiraz for almost 50 years. 

Andrew driving Healey out of UTV - John Kruger

Andrew driving Healey out of UTV - Photo by John Kruger

Beginning in 2001, Andrew and his father made trial wines from various parts of the vineyard. The 2008 is the inaugural commercial release (just 790 bottles) of the 1891 Ancestor Vines wine, priced at $225 per bottle. The grapes were picked on February 26, ahead of the March heatwave. The wine has 99 points from James Halliday and 98 points from Tyson Stelzer, who describes it as ‘... the most exciting new label on the Australian market in years’.

It comes from the oldest vines in the Blewitt Springs vineyard planted by Andrew’s great-great-grandfather Thomas in 1891. There is also a larger-volume 2016 Upper Tintara Vineyard Shiraz made from younger vines and priced at a more affordable $38 per bottle. It’s already known as ‘Little Ox’.

Andrew, always a larger-than-life character, has been called ‘Ox’ since his schooldays, hence the distinctive Ox Hardy brand name.
Andrew with Healey on hill - John Kruger

Andrew with Healey on hill - Photo by John Kruger

‘This is a very special little pocket of McLaren Vale’, says Tyson Stelzer. ‘With altitudes lifting from 120 to 350 metres, it catches a little of the cool of the Adelaide Hills, ripening later than the Vale floor, infusing an air of fragrance and spice in its fruits’.

‘The grapes from this small vineyard produce a very superior rich wine, due to the ironstone formation of the hill upon which it is situated’. – South Australian Register, February 1886

Hardy says: ‘McLaren Vale Shiraz to me is an old-fashioned style that should be simply made, about structure and fruit, not about being too bold’.

Oak plays a supporting role, with the Ancestor Vines Shiraz matured in second-use French barrels. ‘It’s not cheap’, says the Real Review’s Huon Hooke, ‘but it’s a superb wine, beautifully gift-packaged with a booklet detailing its distinguished provenance and, of course, it has the unusual benefit of 11 years of age’.

The 2016 Upper Tintara Vineyard Shiraz, says Hooke… ‘is also a superb wine and exceptional value for money’.

Ancestor Vine Shiraz & Upper Tintara Shiraz photo by Jason Loucas

Ancestor Vine Shiraz & Upper Tintara Shiraz photo by Jason Loucas

Setting a seal on the significance of this release is the fact that Hardy has begun making wine again in the open, slate fermenting tanks in what remains of the original Upper Tintara winery, unused since 1923 following Thomas Hardy’s death in 1912.

It’s truly worth celebrating when new wines arrive with so much genuine family history and tradition attached. 

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