ACCOLADES’ Paul Lapsley has been around the industry for a few years but he can still be overwhelmed by the sheer history of the product even though he is now the guy calling all the shots.
Push and prod which ever way you like, but Accolade Wines chief winemaker (premium), Paul Lapsley simply isn’t going to nominate a single wine as being the outstanding achievement of the business.
Without wanting to sound like an old crusty, he says it’s all about Hardys’ heritage – 161 years on and Thomas Hardy’s philosophy of producing the best wine by blending across the regions still drives the search to deliver the customer the absolute best at each price point.
“It was something Thomas Hardy initiated all those years ago when he insisted blending wine from different regions could produce a better wine than most wines from a single region,” Lapsley says.
“And it’s something we are still doing from Thomas and Eileen Hardy at the top of the range, through the HRB (Heritage Reserve Bin) range down through Nottage Hill,” he insists forcefully.
“It’s not that we are rejecting terroir and single vineyard wines, they can be fantastic expressions of place, but when you really understand wine you realise you can take two good things and make something outstanding.”
“I think we have continued to do that over the years. There has been an enormous amount of innovation in winemaking at Hardys, and the pantheon of brilliant winemakers who have been through this business have helped drive that.
“But while we are playing with things like refrigeration to get brighter fruit flavours, whole bunch pressing, French oak and all those things … first and foremost it is going back to the philosophy underpinning tradition of this company – which is blending between regions.”
Lapsley says the work has also had “tremendous support” from the viticultural teams who have been instrumental in developing new regions, and driving vineyards to achieve those standards which deliver the higher fruit quality.
He says they have done pioneering work in the regions identifying the things it takes to produce the best fruit in each region – and it is different in every region.
“You can’t just take a template that works in Margaret River, cart it down to Tasmania and expect it to work,” Lapsley explains.
“Each region needs a different approach to make it work,” he says.
“But it is those regional blends we keep coming back to. I think we were the first, via the HRB range, to blend Clare Valley and Tassie Riesling to get something really outstanding.”
Full article in July’s Grapegrower & Winemaker.