| Norm Hardie Winery
Prince Edward County, Ontario
| Winemaker, Norm Hardie
| County Pinot Noir 2008
| Available Online and at the Winery
So, I’ve gone back to school – yes, wine school. This fall I’m enrolled in the International Wine Education Guild “Intermediate” course, offered at George Brown by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. It’s been an eye-opening experience so far, and I’ve only had one class. The focus is largely on old-world wines and practices, but, the other day, as I was reading through textbook, “Wines and Sprits: Looking Behind the Label”, I wondered how their notes might be applied to our own backyard. When talking about old-world wines in a new-world setting, I can’t think of a better winemaker to explore than Norman Hardie.
I’ve raved elsewhere on this site about Norm and his wines. The kind, gentle man is also a passionate winemaker and an effusive personality, happy to share his passion with others. His chardonnays were among the first I ever really liked, and his Riesling spent the summer by my side – my case is indeed now down to a few bottles. I bought some of the County Pinot 2008 when we visited in April, and couldn’t wait to get into it as we transition in to fall.
My WSET textbook would have me believe that Pinot Noir is a grape, which, under the right circumstances, gives wine that “display red fruit (strawberry, raspberry, cherry), with vegetal and animal nuances (wet leaves, mushroom, gamey-meaty aromas).” Of course, Canada is not listed in my textbook as a Pinot-producing region, but Norm bases all of his practices on his experiences in Burgundy in France, applying these to the unique terroir and soil of Prince Edward County. His pinot does indeed hit one with red fruit on the nose, with something earthy as well. The limestone of the County terroir, however, it was distinguishes this pinot from its European counterparts. The minerality of the palate is clear, giving this light, lower-alcohol wine a graceful strength. Of course, like many great wines from Ontario, it’s not an affordable bottle, but there are a lot of reasons why.
Elsewhere in my textbook, the factors affecting wine style, quality and price are discussed. This information, while appearing obvious, is also insightful as to where our Ontario winemaking practices stand vis-à-vis the international market. Time and I read that techniques such as pruning and positioning of leaves, which most winemakers do here, “use expensive labour, which increases the costs as well as quality” of their wines. We’re told that growing with lower yields generally results in more “concentrated flavours”, but “costs more to grow and will have to sell for a higher price”. At every step in the winemaking process, there are plenty of ways to cut your bottom line. From equipment to labour to mechanization, there are lots of ways to make cheap wine. A winemaker like Norman Hardie, focused as he is on perfecting every step of his process, has clearly made a choice to do, and the quality and price of his wine reflects that choice. While we in Ontario might not be on the international winemaking map, yet, it’s folks like Norm who will get us there, with this uncompromising dedication. So hop in your car, head to the County, and visit Norm. I promise, you’ll learn much more than I ever will from this textbook!