More Harvest at Norman Hardie

For the first time ever, we're doing a small batch of rosé this year at Norm's. I'm pretty excited, as a big rosé fan I've been not-so-secretly hoping for this for a number of years. And when one block of Pinot Noir was not looking like it wasn't going to get perfectly ripe it was decided that we would endevour to make Norm's first rosé! We pressed the grapes down the road at Hinterland Wine Co. (one the finest sparkling producers in Canada) using their tank press. Here is a quick Blackberry photo essay from Day 1: the inception of rosé at Norm's.

goLocal with Norman Hardie

As part of their goLocal program, the LCBO has highlighted a few of Ontario's top producers in a series of videos about those wineries and the people behind them. They did a great job capturing the essence of the winery and Norm's 'wine-growing' philosophy a few weeks ago in Prince Edward County...

As Norm mentions in the video, the best wines always come from the edge, and having found a place with a near-perfect confluence of a cool climate with red clay and calcareous limestone soils (like Burgundy) he produces wines that are truly unique. The wines are wonderfully and unapologetically earthy because the work is done in the vineyard, not in the winery. The riper grapes get or the more aggressively you oak a wine, the more it tastes like it could have come from anywhere, and these wines definitely taste like they come from P.E.C....or maybe even Burgundy. 

In the end that's probably why Norm's wines have become relevant in the world's two biggest Burgundy markets: Tokyo and New York, markets that don't need just another Pinot Noir. Top restaurants in these markets can often be used as a litmus test of international relevance, and last year Norm's County Pinot Noir was featured at Tokyo's Four Seasons and this past week was included in a paired tasting menu for food & wine writers at Thomas Keller's Per Se in NYC. Apparently their pairing of Norm's County Pinot Noir with one of Chef Keller's poultry dishes was so outstanding that Saveur Magazine will be featuring the wine with the recipe in an upcoming issue! After visiting Per Se this summer and having seen the wonderful depths of their Burgundy list myself, this is high praise and definitely another reason to celebrate our local wines like Norm Hardie.

Harvest at Norman Hardie Winery

It's a funny thing about Norm, his wines, and the people they attract...

Chris Campbell washing barrels at sunset  |  Photo: Andrew Sainsbury  |  @avsains @campbell101

Chris Campbell's personal twitter description reads: "Lacking VQA typicity since 1974." James Simpkins' twitter bio reads: "Professional wine guzzler. Opponent of all that is exceedingly-ripe, over-extracted and oak-laden." Chris was the former manager of Marben in Toronto, and is now full-time at the winery. James is the sommelier at Liverpool House and Joe Beef in Montreal who drives down to the County on weekends to volunteer at Norm's. These two guys are examples of the kind of loyal friends and clients Norm and his wines have built...and their tongue-in-cheek personal monikers of going against the mass palate and denouncing over-ripe, heavily oaked wines could be the unofficial motto of the winery. Norm's wines have never been for everybody, and he likes it that way. Norm's philosophy from the beginning has been that we don't make cutesy wines for the mass market. We make natural, unfiltered, terroir-driven wines that speak of a place. The terroir is cool-climate and red clay with calcareous limestone (like Burgundy) which leads Norm to produce unapologetically earthy wines that inspire critics like Ian D'Agata to say "His chardonnays and pinots are some of the most Burgundian you will find outside Burgundy", and for Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator to name Norm's County Chard as one of his 3 favourite wines of the year.

All of this coupled with the most unpretentious, no-attitudes approach have inspired Chris, James, myself, and other like-minded wine geeks, chefs and sommeliers to spend their weekends at Norm's picking grapes, working in the cellar, working the tasting bar, or cooking dinner. This happens year-round, but is at its peak during harvest when all hands are on deck. The woodfire pizza oven is in full effect, he brings in whole pigs for roasts and lots of good wine gets consumed in the evenings after a good days work. It's such a wonderful community experience when 60 volunteers make it out to help Norm get all his grapes off the vine, and they get well rewarded with all the food and wine they can handle. Here is a great video that Andrew Sainsbury shot last weekend of Norm commenting on the vintage in the vineyard during harvest:

The following pictures are some quick Blackberry snaps from last weekend's harvest...more to come...