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SINCE its establishment 160 years ago, South Australian wine brand Hardy?s has grown into a major player in the global wine industry, with operations throughout 80 countries.

Of course, Thomas Hardy could not have known all this when he started planting the vines, which would blossom into the largest wine company (by volume) in Australia.

Aside from one family tradition where the first male Hardy of each generation is named ?Thomas?, there is another one where one outstanding family member from each generation is commemorated with a wine.

In this case, fifth-generation wine -maker Bill Hardy recently launched his ?William Hardy? range, consisting of Chardonnay and Shiraz single varietal wines, at Jason?s Food Hall in Bangsar Shopping Centre (BSC), Kuala Lumpur.

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Fine wines: (From left) Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Miles Kupa, Bill and Jason?s Food Hall operations managerCharles van Coller at the official launch of the William Hardy wine range at Bangsar Shopping Centre.

As part of the launch, Accolade Wines, Hardy?s parent company, organised a media lunch to introduce the two wines at chic restaurant and bar WIP.

Guests were treated to a starter of prawn and rocket salad, sprinkled with lemon vinaigrette, paired with a 2008 Sir James Sparkling.

The name of the sparkling wine comes from Bill?s uncle, Sir James Hardy who formerly served as Hardy?s chief winemaker and is also an accomplished sailor.

The salad was followed by seafood chowder, paired with the Chardon-nay. The dry, medium-bodied white plays well against the chowder?s cream, with hints of citrus or peach lingering on the tongue sometime after the liquid is drunk.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the guests were served lamb ribs to go with the Shiraz, which has a strong fruity bouquet.

The palate itself hinted strongly of berries, with a smooth finish and not too acidic. Perhaps the only quibble was that it was served a tad too warm.

Bill, who began his career at Hardy?s Tintara vineyards in South Australia?s McLaren Vale, has been serving for 40 years as winemaker and Hardy?s brand ambassador.

?I am proud to be the fifth generation winemaker for Hardy?s, and helping to build the business into what it is today,? he said.

He added that the Malaysian wine market, along with the South-East Asian market in general, had grown into important markets for Hardy?s in recent years.

?I did a little bit of background research, and discovered that we were already importing wine to the then Federated Malaysia States as far back as the 1930s,? said Bill.

While understandably reluctant to reveal figures, Accolade Wine regional director for Asia Travis Brown said Malaysia constituted 25% of sales in the South-East Asian region.

?Malaysia together with the Philippines, are our leading markets, followed by Thailand,? he explained, adding that the brand?s long presence could not have been possible without working closely with local partners.

In addition, Brown said Hardy?s would be stepping up its brand exposure in the coming six months.

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