General Blog

Hancocks Tour 2014

By August 20, 2014No Comments
The Hancocks liquor distribution arm of the Jakicevich family is one of the most important in New Zealand. Fully-established with a national reach, the portfolio of wines, beer, cider and spirits is extensive and indeed all-encompassing. It is not only the breadth that is the strength of the range, but also the depth. There are products that offer real value and affordability, but also those which are prestigious and exclusive. I’ve noticed that this allows the company to react well to different market situations and in a tight and difficult one that carries the residue of the FGC, the products that are promoted are those that are more accessible. This is not to say that there is a lessening of the top-end. All one need do is head into one of the Jakicevich’s Glengarry retail stores and see the offering of Bordeaux, Burgundy, single malts and the like. There is no comparison with any other retailer-distributor link-up. The other aspect about Hancocks is the drive of the company, led from the top. There is a certain positive aggression and enthusiasm in the modus operandi which has been the hallmark of the company.

I’ve been invited to the Hancocks Tour over the last few years and must admit that for one reason or another I haven’t done it justice. The portfolio is enormous, and among the wines, there are offerings from Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and the U.S.A. as well as those from New Zealand. At this years’ tour I made the effort to visit each of the New Zealand exhibitors, taste one wine (asking the exhibitor to choose the wine) and take a photo of the person behind the stand. Here are my notes on the wines tasted (not rated or scored), and my pictures. www.hancocks.co.nz

David Turnbull – Tupari

Tupari – Marlborough

The Tupari wines of the Awatere Valley are elegant and accessible, showing the Marlborough sub-region style of cool-climate delicacy. Owner David Turnbull, who is in partnership with veteran winemaker Glenn Thomas, poured the Tupari Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012, deep ruby-red with an attractively fresh, youthful nose of red fruits. The palate is lush and sweet-fruited, quite supple and accessible, with an underlying line of acidity that carries the wine. A deliciously easy and refreshing wine.

Roger Parkinson – Nga Waka

Nga Waka – Martinborough
Impeccable is the word to describe the Nga Waka range of wines from Martinborough. The wines are serious and ageworthy, and each varietal made is top flight for the region. The production is limited, but are worth seeking out. Roger Parkinson showed his Nga Waka Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013, bright, light straw colour, the nose is a mix of ripe gooseberry and passionfruit flavours, with real depth. On palate, very mouthflling and evenly expressed, with sweetly ripe tropical flavours, the acidity ripe and the wine exuding energy. This has substance and core.

Rachael & Peter Robertson – Brookfields

Brookfields – Hawke’s Bay
The affable and ageless Peter Robertson is one of Hawke’s Bay’s institutions, and his wines are classical expressions of vineyard site, variety and vintage. That said, the Brookfields ’Gold Label’ Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2013, poured by Peter and daughter Rachael, speaks of power, a hallmark of this label, even in lighter years. From an outstanding vintage, this 80/20 blend was aged in 100% new oak Impenetrable black red colour, rich and driven aromas of blackcurrants and ripe plums, the oaking not intrusive an any way. On palate very tight, the ripe fruit and ripe tannins providing finesse, yet with good acid freshness. A star from this vintage no doubt.

Kirsten Searle – Matawhero
Matawhero – Gisborne
The Searle family have revitalised this label of legend and are taking the innovative stance, very much as founding Irwin family did in the 1970s. The framework of innovation here is the exploration of new and emerging varieties. Kirsten Searle offered the Matawhero ‘Church House’ Gisborne Chenin Blanc 2013, bright straw-yellow, this has classical Chenin Blanc varietal character with white florals and white stonefruit aromas. The palate is the departure, being quite exotic, combining tropical fruits and a delicious confectionary aspect. Creamy in texture, but tempered by a thread of phenolic textures. This sits at 13.2%alc. and 9 g/L RS.

Kim Crawford – The Maker

The Maker – Multi-Regional
This is an exclusive on-premise brand for Hancocks, owned in equal portion by Hancocks and veteran winemaker Kim Crawford. Kim was on hand to pour The Maker ‘Fleur de Lis’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013. The wine is what you’d expect from Kim Crawford . Pale and youthful, the bouquet is packed full of pungent thiol-passionfruit aromas. On palate quite soft with its richness. There’s good concentration for sure, but the lower acid mouthfeel means instant accessibility and mouthfilling flavours. Made from Rapaura fruit – where else?

Jedda Jakicevich – Torea

Torea – Marlborough
Hancocks recently acquired the ‘Torea’ brand from the Small and Smith families of Fairhall Downs. They have contracted Kim Crawford to make the wines and the Jakecevich family look after the marketing and sales. Jedda Jakicevich showed the Torea ‘Oystercatcher’ Marlborough Pinot Gris 2014, pale straw yellow, with subtle lifted florals, pears and honeysuckle on the nose. Quite up-front, clean and delicate with good line, leading to a light, dry finish.

Russell Wiggins & Maxine Cavey – Pask Winery

Pask Winery – Hawke’s Bay
Gimblett Gravels pioneers Pask Winery makes a traditional range of wines that are classical representations of the special terroir. The flagship ‘Declaration’ bottlings can be exceptional The company has moved with the times by introducing the ‘Kate Radburnd’ wines which are focussed on aromatics and approachability. Winemaker Russell Wiggins and marketer Maxine Cavey poured two wines. The Pask ‘Gimblett Road’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2012 is from a most challenging vintage, but experience winemaking has made a wine with fruit sweetness and balance. Ruby-red with some depth, elegant dark red berry fruit aromas are entwined with pepper and spice. Medium-light bodied, lovely gentle succulence and light supple tannins. Not trying to be something it can never be. Then the Kate Radburnd ‘Berry Blush’ Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2013, bright pale pink, fresh, lacy red berry fruit aromas and flavours, crisp, clean and refreshing. Made from Gimblett Gravels Merlot, 12.0% alc. and approx. 7 g/L RS.

Tanya Orchard & Matt Patterson-Green – Jackson Estate

Jackson Estate – Marlborough
One of the earliest of the Marlborough brands to hit the world stage, the founders John and Jo Stitchbury enjoying revitalisation and investment with the input of John Benton, who is also one of the directors of Pask. Mature vineyards and well-thought-out styles that show the best of the region. Winemaker Matt Patterson-Green and marketer Tanya Orchard showed me the Jackson Estate ‘Grey Ghost’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011, fully barrel-fermented with 50% MLF. Still showing youthful green hues, this has concentrated green and spicy stonefruits, and the beginnings of secondary complexities. Tight with vibrant acidity and a fine phenolic textured line, this has plenty of time ahead to show its more complex style.

Matt Connell – Akarua

Akarua – Central Otago
Best known for the fulsome and rich Pinot Noirs, Akarua is one of Central Otago and Bannockburn’s stalwarts. The wines have never been better under the lead of winemaker Matt Connell, who has shown a deft hand at the complicated Methode Traditionnelle style, and now sweet wines. Matt showed the Akarua ‘Alchemy Ice’ Central Otago 2013, a blend of Riesling and Gewurztraminer, the fruit freeze-concentrated and fermented to 10% alc. and 208 g/L RS, with a TA of 9 g/L. The ice wine style doesn’t employ botrytised fruit, and this has a firm, steel density and slight textural line at the core, but it’s the exotic floral flavours intermixed with honey, and the slippery acidity that stand out. Delicious and hedonistic stuff.

Simon McGeorge – Waipara Hills

Waipara Hills – Waipara Valley
It’s a complicated story, but essentially Waipara Hills is part of the Mud House brand, and it’s business as usual with a change of ownership at the corporate level. Simon McGeorge is a most thoughtful winemaker who has become intimate with the vineyards and fruit of the Waipara Valley. His wines constantly figure in the winner’s circle. He showed me the Waipara Hills ‘Equinox’ Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2013, with 13.5% alc. and 6.5 g/L RS, straw-yellow in colour with good depth and density of yellow stonefruit aromas along with suggestions of exotic spices. Already showing complexing savoury nuances, and all underpinned by excellent drive and a fine phenolic line. Is there any reason why Pinot Gris will not be as recognised as Riesling in Waipara?

Carlos Orgiles Ortega – Isabel

Isabel – Marlborough
It was recently announced that Isabel Estate was put into receivership. At present, the company is trading, and let’s hope the future brings a positive outcome. There’s no denying the site and mature vines lend a special concentration to the wines. Winemaker Carlos Orgiles Ortega showed me his Isabel Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012. I know from previous experience that it appears shy and unforthcoming. But give it some aeration and one can see the serious structure within, and there’s plenty of fruit to match the texture. It’ll never be a show pony or a blockbuster, but its stylishness will mean it will keep well.

Jules Taylor – Jules Taylor Wines

Jules Taylor – Marlborough
Jules Taylor has a big and bright smile that reflects the style of her wines. A decade of winemaking under her own label has proven her star, and it seems it is shining brighter than ever. There was a lot of talk about the Jules Taylor Marlborough Gruner Veltliner 2013 in the room, as a ‘must try’. So, I had to, even though the Sauvignon Blanc is her flagship. Bright straw-yellow, there are aromas and flavours of white peach with subtle pepper and herbal nuances. This has a concentrated core, but the textures quite soft, endowing the wine with substance and approachability. Many Gruner Veltliners are still finding their place and generally disappoint. This is a good one.

Simon Nunns – Coopers Creek

Coopers Creek – Multi-Regional
Recently joining the Hancocks portfolio, Coopers Creek is one of the enduring wine producers, with over three decades of top wine. Besides the range of classical styles and varieties, winemaker Simon Nunns is arguably the leader with many of the emerging varieties, such as Gruner Veltliner, Arneis and Albarino. There’s never a poor wine under the Coopers Creek brand. Simon poured two wines for me. Firstly the Coopers Creel ‘SV – The Bell Ringer’ Gisborne Albarino 2014, brilliant pale straw colour, with a tight steeliness, unveiling honey and spices to enhance the florals. Elegant and tight on the palate with youthful textures and a touch of grip, this is slender, intense and softly penetrating. I thought it a little drier than the multi award winning 2013, but what do I know, Simon tells me it’s actually a tad sweeter with 6.0 g/L RS! Then the Coopers Creek ‘Swamp Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2013, pale in colour and unforthcoming on bouquet, but what a beauty to taste. Rich, refined and succulent ripe stonefruits, gorgeous creamy barrel-ferment, and everything in its place. It shows a move to greater elegance, and Simon agreed, so I got something right!

Karo Gambitsis – Lake Chalice

Lake Chalice – Marlborough
This specialist label of Chris Gambitsis and Phil Binnie has a dedicated following. Their enthusiasm is as strong as when they started their winemaking venture 25 years ago. There are several tiers under the Lake Chalice brand including the ‘Spice Trail’ wines designed to partner spicy foods of varying heat. Chris’ sister Karen (Karo) Gambitisis joined the business from a hospitality and wine retail background and she poured the Lake Chalice Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014, pale in colour, with intensely pungent passionfruit aromas and a lush, juicy palate. This is a crowd pleaser. Then the new Lake Chalice ‘Sticky Beak’ Marlborough Late Harvest Riesling 2013, at 11.0% alc. and 85 g/L RS, pale gold in colour this is already complex with an array of talc botrytis, toast and lime aromas and a soft-textured, refined palate showing lovely botrytis, finishing nicely dry.

Ryan O’Connell – Middle-Earth

Middle-Earth – Nelson
The Middle-Earth wines are the produce of a well-established vineyard owned by Rob Grey in the Brightwater district of Nelson. The brand was launched in 2012 following a number of years of grape supply to a number of high profile wineries. The wines made by Trudy Sheild of Waimea Estates. Ryan O’Connell showed his Middle-Earth Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2014, bright and pale coloured, an elegant style showing gooseberry fruit and lifted aromatic perfumes. Fine, tight and linear on palate, this has a dry finish.

Julie Taylor – te Pa

te Pa – Marlborough
The te Pa label is the winegrowing venture of Haysley MacDonald and his family who have farmed their land including that on the Wairau Bar, next to the coast, for generations. They now have 150 ha of vineyards and source fruit from other districts in Marlborough. The wines are made by Liam McElhinney. Julie Taylor, Haysley’s charming wife poured the te Pa Marlborough Pinot Rosé 2014, made from Pinot Noir from the Wairau and Waihopi, carrying 7 g/L RS. Soft salmon pink colour, the nose is redolent of soft red florals lifted with a hint of confectionary. A lovely, refreshing, slippery palate has all the vinosity you need.

Bruce Abbott & Matt Elrick – Allan Scott

Allan Scott – Marlborough
Allan Scott is one of the pioneers of the Marlborough wine industry, and he must take immense pleasure in seeing how his work has helped the region become world famous. Although his family have taken up major roles in the business, I believe he works as hard as ever. His winemakers Bruce Abbott and Matt Elrick were on hand to pour the Allan Scott Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013. Good deep, ruby-red colour, bright, vibrant and fresh aromas of raspberries lead to a rich, lusciously fruited palate with supple tannins. This is an up-front, near bold, fruit-focussed Pinot Noir that will make many friends, showing the work at Allan Scott to ever-increase their appeal.

Paul Donaghy & Malcolm Rees-Francis – Rockburn

Rockburn – Central Otago
Of all the New Zealand wine producers in the Hancocks portfolio, I’ve managed to keep most up-to-date with Rockburn. The wines that Malcolm Rees-Francis makes are as classical Central Otago expressions as they could be, and this has resulted in a consistent run of top awards, especially for the Pinot Noir. However, Malcolm is pushing the boundaries across the portfolio with a number of special bottlings, such as the Rockburn ’10 Barrels’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012, solely from a Gibbston site. Medium deep ruby red colour, the nose is elegant and refined with layers of savoury whole bunch complexities that merge seamlessly with the cooler Gibbston dried herb spectrum. Beautifully elegant and layers of subtle savoury flavours emerge, and the wine flows with excellent energy. A true expression of terroir.

Patrick Stowe – Rimu Grove
(hamming it up, of course!)
Rimu Grove – Nelson
This is a true boutique and artisan label, the wines made by the ever-smiling, fun-loving and cheerful Patrick Stowe. As with any artisanal produce, the wines reflect the land and the hand, sometimes with a touch of rusticity, but always with character, and good quality in all the wines I’ve tasted since his first vintage 15 years ago. Patrick showed the Rimu Grove Nelson Pinot Noir 2009, now showing some lighter garnet colour, the wine now into its secondary phase with seamlessly interwoven aromas of dried herbs, undergrowth and mushrooms, yet still sweet and fresh on palate. This is beginning to drink beautifully now, showing the complexities of Pinot Noir approaching maturity.

Leave a Reply

Latest wine reviews, news, events and more. 🍷
We respect your privacy.