Anyone involved in hospitality comes face-to-face with the thousands of devils in every detail of planning as the premiers of every State throw up lockdowns as if they were engaged in a game of two-up. Except it’s worse than that, because there are up to six spinners who come and go as they please with little or no notice or accountability.
I have wine events, large and small, stretching through to the end of November. Some of these have already been postponed, almost all with dates ‘to be confirmed’, and any interstate trip would preferably be in and out on the one day. Even a 50-minute trip from the Yarra Valley to Melbourne presently planned cannot take place. My bet is none will take place.
So what do the husband-and-wife team of Colleen and Sebastian Hardy do to build their wine business? They commute from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York to the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale, with vintages twice each year, fitting in marketing when and where they can. Colleen says thus of their year: “COVID brought ghost town airports, masks, face shields and hand sanitizer galore, lots of paperwork, even more COVID tests, and blending while in hotel quarantine to our travel routine, but we’ve been able to more or less continue our normal schedule of ~4 months of the year in Australian and ~8 months in the US. Thankfully, we have not missed a vintage yet. [Fingers crossed for 2022!]”
They do have some advantages. The wine styles of each region are radically different, so there’s no cross over there. Here in Australia Sebastian is a member of the Hardy tribe (his father Geoff Hardy of K1 Wines, great-great grandfather is Thomas Hardy), while in the beautiful Finger Lakes the pair have an urban winery, which is a prime destination for jaded New Yorkers.
The name? It reflects the pair’s willingness to sustainably experiment with new varieties and new techniques in two radically different environments.
2018 Living Roots Linden Blossom Finger Lakes Dry Riesling
15% hand-picked, 15% wild fermented, 8% fermented in used French oak; 6gL residual sugar perfectly balanced by 8gL TA. Exotic perfume of wild flowers in a meadow, the palate as intense as it is long. On any terms, a delicious wine.
95 points, drink to 2028, 11.4% alc, Screwcap, $45
2020 Living Roots McLaren Vale Grenache
Ex 2 sites separately vinified, hand-picked, whole berry fermentation. High quality wine from start to finish; good depth to the colour, fragrant berries, flowers and spices on the bouquet that tells you there is a perfectly proportioned and composed palate, the tannins caressing the red and purple fruits.
96 points, drink to 2030, 13.8% alc, Diam, $34
2020 Living Roots Limestone Coast Montepulciano
Wild fermented in open picking bins; 10 days on skins; 15 months in French oak (16% new). Intense, deep purple core; the bouquet stands aside to let the exultant power of the sultry black fruits to tell the tale. A ‘no beg your pardon’ full-bodied red wine.
94 points, drink to 2040, 12.6% alc, Diam, $34