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Hancocks Tour 2012

By September 19, 2012No Comments
It’s a fantastic opportunity of seeing a large range of wines from around the world when a major national distributor conducts a roadshow tour. Hancocks is the wine, spirit and beer distribution arm of the burgeoning Jakicevich family liquor business. Over the last three decades it has amassed an immensely strong portfolio of domestic wine labels as well as overseas brands. However, the key to their success has been the strong drive and focus of the family and team members. Such roadshow events offer a snapshot of what’s available, and one should devote a fair amount of time to do justice to all that is being exhibited. Unfortunately what was planned to be a whole afternoon tasting was cut short to less than two hours due to a time overrun accumulated through the day. Here follows some brief impressions of what I tasted. www.hancocks.co.nz
New Zealand Wines
It was good to see some Brookfields Hawke’s Bay wines from Peter Robertson after a bit of a gap. The ‘Gold Label Reserve’ Cabernet/Merlot 2009 is surprisingly elegant, but the quality and style of the vintage can be seen in its intensity of dark fruits and length. I loved the ‘Hillside’ Syrah 2010, fantastic depth, smooth as silk in mouthfeel, and marked a little by bacony oak which I am happy to accept.

Richard and Kirsten Searle run Brunton Road and the Matawhero labels in Gisborne, and wines from both portfolios are in the modern and accessible camp that is easily appreciated. Comparing the Brunton Road Merlot 2009 and Matawhero Merlot 2011, both shared excellent aromatics, prettiness and freshness with primary fruit the focus, along with soft mouthfeel.

I managed to have an in-depth catch up with Kate Radburnd with her Pask Winery Gimblett Gravels wines at an earlier lunch (click here to read). Exciting things are in the works, and her move to join Hancocks as their distributor as of 1 October is part of the plan. I had a quick run-through the widely seen ‘Roys Hill’ range and the new ‘Kate Radburnd’ wines which offer consistent presence in all sectors of the market.

Ken Small was showing the Fairhall Downs wines from Marlborough. I was interested in the Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and sure enough it had fresh pungency and richness, with good acidity, typical of a great year. The Torea wine was being poured by Stuart Smith, Ken’s son-in-law, and the Oystercatcher Chardonnay 2011 successfully shows the marriage of stainless-steel and oak-influenced components with its texture and tight citrussy notes.

The charmingly feisty Jules Taylor had a full Marlborough range, and I elected to taste the Gruner Veltliner 2011, distinctly aromatic and beautifully textured. The gold medal winning Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is also fine and soft in mouthfeel with elegant passionfruit flavours, a seamless wine with class.

Ever friendly, Patrick Stowe bubbles over with enthusiasm, which makes you look forward to tasting his Rimu Grove from Nelson. The Riesling 2011 has soft talc and peach aromas and flavours with lovely delicacy.

An emerging label is that of Tupari in the Awatere. Veteran winemaker Glenn Thomas and his partner have this vineyard with the Turnbulls, and already the wines have had excellent show results. The Pinot Noir 2011 combines attractively up-front fruit with a seriousness in the underlying structure.

Riesling was on the agenda to taste with Simon McGeorge of Waipara Hills. It’s all about style with the Waipara Hills ‘Equinox’ and regular Waipara Hills Rieslings from 2011. Both share the exotic jasmine florals, the Equinox richer and with more depth, making it more character, but then the regular wine more classical with its acidity and linearity,

On hand were wines from Allan Scott, Isabel and Lake Chalice from Marlborough, Nga Waka from Martinborough, and Akarua and Rockburn from Central Otago. I didn’t get the chance to taste them, so look forward to the next opportunity.
International Wines
The Australian selection is strong. Although de Bortoli has a wide range of wines, I went straight to the famous ‘Noble One’ 2008. I still remember the first wines in the 1980s, and this current release retains more Semillon and not just botrytis, but is still long and intensely lush. Going through the Geoff Merrill wines, they are much more elegant than the larger-than-life founder. My pick was the perfumed, spicy and minty SGM 2008. The ‘Reserve’ Shiraz 2006 continues the elegance theme, but has layers of flavour, now developing secondary complexity. More archetype Aussie Shiraz was the Nugan Estate ‘Parish’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009, with its sweetly succulent eucalypt fruit, and concentrated palate. The Taylors ‘Jaraman’ Clare/McLaren Shiraz 2010 was also the star of that range, more in the spicy plum and liquorice spectrum, but super-refined in the mouthfeel. The big boy from the Australians was freely available to taste. Torbreck has ‘The Laird’ as its flagship, now superseding the ‘RunRig’ Shiraz, but the RunRig is still up there, the 2007 now developing secondary characters. It’s penetratingly intense, with excellent acidity that will see it keep well.

From the other overseas wines, I looked at the Chakana wines from Argentina, the ‘Reserve’ Malbec 2010 quite mild but varietal, without the excesses that can come out. Also exemplary in varietal expression was the ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, and these two deliver. From Spain, I tasted tradition with the Marques de Caceres Rioja Gran Riserva 2007, a wine with powerful structure underlying complex fruit and extended oak aging flavours. Far more contemporary was the ‘MC’ 2005, with its focus on ripe Tempranillo fruit and the more restrained use of oak.

A must visit were the Champagne stands. Piper Heidsieck is typically elegant and freshly accessible, and the Vintage 2004 is that, but carries a beautifully fine line and length. Charles Heidsieck is always richer, and the ‘Brut Reserve’ NV showed toasty softness that blossomed on palate. It was the Charles Heidsieck Millesime 2000 that impressed me with its fullness, age and layers of soft, bready, yeasty, savoury mouthfilling flavours and creamy textures, all poised on restrained mousse. Then onto one of my favourites, Pol Roger. On tasting was the new Rose 2004, a little more forceful and bold than the sublime 2002, but it has wonderfully judged textural finesse. It will no doubt become closer to the beauty that the earlier release possesses with time.

Unfortunately I missed the Italian wines, Sherry and Port, as well as cider and beers.
It takes plenty of planning, logistical work and energy to conduct these showcase events, but they are essential to attend. Your eyes are always opened by something and whether you promote such finds, or just drink them, you get the benefit as do the exhibitors. So thanks to the Hancocks team and the suppliers involved!

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