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Hancocks Tour 2015

By August 13, 2015No Comments

Hancocks is one of New Zealand’s most significant liquor distributors. Owned by the Auckland-based Jakicevich family, the company has a truly national reach and is fully integrated with the family’s retail Glengarry retail arm, yet retains its independent status, and is thus able to do business with all trade without conflict. It’s a unique model, and a highly successful one.

Part of Hancocks success is due to the wonderful portfolio of wines, spirits, beers and accessories. The wine producers distributed are indeed significant, with a very strong breadth of small and larger New Zeand labels. There are also wines from Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and the United States. The other important driver is the dedication of the staff and their implementation of a positive, if not aggressive approach to the marketplace. Part of this is the annual Hancocks Tour, where the company’s portfolio is put on show, with exhibition tastings held in the major centres.

I attended the Hancocks Tour in Wellington this year, held in the spacious Gallery at the St James Theatre. There, I visited all the New Zealand producers, but unfortunately not the imported exhibitors, so as not to be rushed or overwhelmed by the choice. I asked each of them to pour one wine, of their choice, for me to taste. Making a quick note of the wine, I took a photo of the exhibitor. Following are the photos and notes on the wines tasted. The tasting includes a score. Due to the relaxed nature of the tasting, I have not added the notes or scores to my database. Somehow, I missed out catching up with the ‘Loveblock’ wines of Kim and Erica Crawford, a significant oversight. My apologies, and I promise to see you next year. www.hancocks.co.nz

Matt Connell & Kathryn Pettit – Akarua

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Over the past several vintages, winemaker Matt Connell has guided the stylistic development of the Akarua Pinot Noir towards one of greater elegance and sophistication, without eschewing the natural Bannockburn exuberance and richness. The latest release, the 2013 is very dark, black-red with youthful purple hues. Rich raspberry and blackberry aromas fill the nose, unveiling spices, liquorice and violet florals. Yet on palate this is tight and sleek, the fruit vibrantly rich, but fresh and aromatically lifted without any undue broadness. Very fine tannins and linear drive here. Yes, there’s a touch of class in this. (18.5+/20)

Mitchell Gardiner – Allan Scott

Allan Scott ‘Cecilia’ Marlborough Methode Traditionnelle Brut NV
Making classical Marlborough wines, I reckon the sparklings can be the stars. Mitchell Gardiner in charge of sales presented the latest ‘Cecilia’ Lot L2011.22. Unfortunately there’s no disgorgement date as there was. Approx. 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, the wine 3 years on lees. Bright, pale straw with fine bubbles. The bouquet reflects the freshness of Chardonnay with florals and citrus, hints of toast, and restrained, savoury yeasty autolysis. Bright, tight and refreshingly clean with crisp and zesty acidity, the textures are creamy and the mousse very fine. Still tightly bound, the autolysis is a little undeveloped on this bottling on this showing, But it has finesse. (17.5+/20)

Peter Robertson – Brookfields

Brookfields ‘Hillside’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014
Peter Robertson and his wife Sharon operate one of Hawke’s Bay’s original Boutique vineyards. The ‘Hillside’ Syrah, from a single site in the Bridge Pa Triangle nominally sits below the ‘Gold Label’ Cabernet/Merlot, but in reality is on the same quality level. Black-hued ruby-red, the rich, ripe black fruits are firm and tightly concentrate, but exude iron and mineral detail. The fruit has sweetness to the black pepper and spice elements, and the vitality of the fruit and liveliness of the mouthfeel the feature. Lovely black liquorice and mineral complexities unfold, and a firm core of extraction carries the wine to a very long finish. Another star release. (19.0-/20)

Simon Nunns – Coopers Creek

Coopers Creek ‘Select Vineyards – Allison’ Gisborne Marsanne 2013
The ‘Select Vineyards’ range of Coopers Creek must have the largest selection of innovative and emerging varietals available commercially. I can’t think of another Marsanne bottling, this one named after the famous American engines that powered many of the World War 2 fighters. From Doug Bell’s vineyard, all fermented in old barrels, to 2.5 g/L RS, given lees work, but not MLF. Still pale straw colour. This has intense aromas of white and yellow stonefruits with a hint of honey. The mouthfeel is bright, fresh, lively and pretty zesty. White florals flow with linearity. This has vinosity and presence. Winemaker Simon Nunns describes its good core and salinity. I agree with him that it will age well. (17.5-/20)

Rosie & Locky Mulholland – Duck Hunter

Duck Hunter Gisborne Oaked Chardonnay 2013
A relatively new brand operating for 4 years now, Duck Hunter is the virtual winery label of Locky and Rosie Mulholland who decided to have their own wine for their distribution business. The wines are made at the Wine Works Marlborough facility with Kim Crawford as the winemaker. The Oaked Chardonnay is from Gisborne fruit. Bright, light straw colour, the aromas of fresh citrus and tropical fruit and toasty oak are up-front and very accessible. Similarly, the palate has plenty of fruitiness along with unmistakeable oaking. The mouthfeel is fresh and lively and the textures lead to a dry finish. A crowd pleaser. (17.5-/20)

Kim Crawford – Farmers Market

Farmers Market Marlborough Pinot Gris 2015
This is the label of a co-operative of New Zealand grape growers, who also have under the same umbrella ‘Gower’s Mark’ and ‘The Maker’, offering differences for alternative channels. The wines ar made by Kim Crawford, who poured this Pinot Gris at 13.0% alc. and 5.6 g/L RS. Very youthful with green hues, this is fresh with intense stonefruit aromatics. Dryish to taste, the palate is well-balanced between sweetness, texture and acidity, the sugar slightly winning, but the palate finishing dry. (17.0+/20)

Geoff Woollcombe – Jackson Estate

Jackson Estate ‘Somerset’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012
I attended Jackson Estates 25 year celebration earlier this year and was introduced to the ‘Somerset’ and ‘Gum Emperor’ single vineyard Pinot Noirs as a pairing. The ‘Somerset’ is the more ‘feminine’, but winemaker Matt Patterson-Green introduces considerable complexity with the use of whole clusters. This 2012, from a concentrated vintage has 30%, the wine aged 18 months in 10% new oak. Bright ruby-red, this is firm and concentrated on nose, with the savoury stalk whole bunch showing. Remarkably tight, yet sweet and rich on palate, this has a lovely firm backbone, and the whole bunch complexities totally integral with the fruit profile. (18.5+/20)

George Elworthy – Jules Taylor

Jules Taylor ‘OTQ’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Regarded by many as Marlborough’s ‘Queen of Sauvignon Blanc’, Jules Taylor’s Sauvignon Blancs are truly benchmarks for the region, packed with pungent passionfruit aromas and flavours. However the ‘OTQ’ (On The Quiet) bottling look at the alternative and innovative style. Poured by Jules’ ‘other half’ George Elworthy, this is from the western side of East-West oriented rows of their selected vineyard, thus ensuring the fullest possible ripeness. The fruit is all barrel-fermented with high solids and the wine aged 13 months in oak with batonnage and 70% MLF. Light golden straw colour, the aromas are of ripe, green stonefruits with oak and other inputs noticeable. The winemaking is more integrated on the palate, which is sweet, plush and fleshy, tempered by phenolic dryness and acid cut. Gooseberries and spices emerge on this bold expression. (18.0/20)

Chris Gambitsis – Lake Chalice

Lake Chalice Marlborough Pinot Gris 2015
I met Chris Gambitsis when he had Charlee’s Restaurant in Lower Hutt over 25 years ago, and watched his growth and success with his Lake Chalice Marlborough label over the years. Gambo poured his 2015 Pinot Gris which has 4.5 g/L RS. Vey youthful and pale coloured, the lifted aromatics are the feature on the nose. Lovely florals and rose-petals, near exotic, not quite Gewurztraminer-like. Bright, crisp and refreshing, this is young and tightly bound, but already the lifted florals are significant. The palate is smooth and slippery. Delicious. (18.0/20)

Kirsten Searle – Matawhero

Matawhero ‘Church House’ Gisborne Chenin Blanc 2014
The Searle family are now realising their investment in what is arguably Gisborne’s most famous wine label, and they are no doubt extremely happy with their gold medal and trophy at the recent Spiegelau International Wine Competition for the ‘Church House’ Chenin Blanc 2014. Made by Kim Crawford, this follows the style of the 2013 I tasted last year. Pale and youthful, this possesses classical white floral and thirst-quenching herbal detail on nose, but then an off-dry, exotic and honey fruited palate. There is richness to the core, countered cleverly by the use of phenolics. This just blossoms on the mid-palate onwards. 13.5% alc. and 9 g/L RS. (18.5+/20)

Ryan & Kylie O’Connell – Middle-Earth

Middle-Earth Nelson Pinot Meunier Rosé 2015
Ryan and Kylie O’Connell and Kylie’s father have a long-established Brightwater, Nelson vineyard operation but introduced their own label only a few years ago with the 2012 vintage. There are 0.4 ha of Pinot Meunier which is now 6 y.o. and it has proven to be an ideal variety for the rosé style. Pale pink with a hint of purple, this is bright and charming with cherry fruit and some lifted confectionary notes. Juicy, mouthwatering acidity balances the sweet-fruit. This has good concentration and a dry finish from the phenolics. (17.5+/20)

Roger Parkinson – Nga Waka

Nga Waka Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014
Roger Parkinson is a lot more relaxed, now that Nga Waka is under new owners. The finances are one factor not on his mind, and he can devote more to the growing and making of finer wine. The 2014 Pinot Noir has a greater 20% whole bunch; it is normally around 10%, this vintage aged 12 months in approx. 22% new oak. Dark, deep ruby-redthe nose has a rich core of dark cherry and berry fruit, the whole bunch component positively with subtle herbal complexities. The palate is more slender than bold, showing the vintage, but there is real lusciousness with crisp, refreshing acidity and fine linear tannin structure in support. It’s maybe a little up-front, but this delivers a Pinot Noir reality. (18.5/20)

Charles Simons – Pask

Pask ‘Declaration’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2013
There was a strong crew of staff supporting Kate Radburnd of Pask Winery at the Hancocks Tour, reflecting the breadth of the different ranges and tiers. Viticulturist Charles Simons presented me with the flagship white, the ‘Declaration’ Chardonnay 2013, which is all Mendoza clone wild yeast fermented in new puncheons, then aged 11 months in barrel with low batonnage and no MLF. Brilliant straw-yellow, this is tight and elegant on the nose with freshness, clarity of stonefruit and citrus fruits, and stylish creamy, nutty barrel-ferment notes, along with nutty lift. This juxtaposes richness, weight, complexity and elegance, along with freshness. A remarkable balance that will enable longevity with complexity. (18.5+/20)

Patrick Stowe – Rimu Grove

Rimu Rove Nelson Chardonnay 2013
This is the serious artisan label of Patrick Stowe who always manages to surprise with the seriousness of his wines, even though he always sports a glint in his eye and a wide grin. This Chardonnay is fully indigenous yeast barrel-fermented and aged 10 months in 40% new oak, the wine given some batonnage, and 100% MLF. Light golden yellow, the nose is full and softly layered with complex aromas of savoury stonefruits and nutty notes. Rich on the palate, this is a complex, traditional, rather than gunflinty contemporary white Burgundian style with nutty flavours, mouthfilling textures and brisk acidity. (18.0+/20)

Paul Donaghy – Rockburn

Rockburn ‘Tigermoth’ Central Otago Riesling 2014
Exuberant winemaker Malcolm Rees-Francis was off tasting other exhibitors wines, leaving general manager Paul Donaghy holding the fort. His choice to serve was the German kabinett-styled ‘Tigermoth’ Riesling which sits at 8.5% alc. and 60 g/L RS. Pale straw-yellow, the nose is very delicate with florals, honeysuckle and minerals, combining freshness with richness. More medium in sweetness than medium-sweet, the palate is tight, crisp and refreshingly luscious, with a fine phenolic thread and line guiding the flavour of apples, flora-/s honey and stone-like minerals. Malcolm consistently achieves this remarkable balance. (18.5-/20)

Sam Bennett – te Pa

te Pa Marlborough Rosé 2014
This year, winemaker Sam Bennett was behind the stand pouring the wine for the MacDonald family, who have farmed the Wairau Bar area next to the coast for generations. I saw the same wine I tasted last year, and was taken by how it had retained its freshness. Pale peachy colour, the aromas and flavours of strawberries and watermelon are delicately expressed. This is all about steely and thirst-quenching vinosity. The acidity is the key here, with fine, drying grip to balance the 5 g/L RS. There’s no hurry with this Pinot Noir Rosé. (17.0/20)

Jedda Jakicevich – Torea

Torea Marlborough Pinot Rosé 2014
The ‘Torea’ brand is now owned by the Jakicevich family who have contracted Kim Crawford as the winemaker. It is a source of good value varietals, made predominantly from Marlborough fruit. Jedda Jakicevich poured this very serviceable wine. Peach-candy floss pink, the aromas of savoury pomegranate fruit are fresh, and the palate is gentle and luscious, with some fine textures and mouthwatering acidity providing balance. 5.7 g/L RS. (17.0/20)

David Turnbull & Glenn Thomas – Tupari

Tupari ‘Boulder Rows’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
The Awatere location of the Turnbull Family and Glenn Thomas’ ‘Tupari’ vineyard is readily identifiable in the wines. Glenn is one of the sub-region’s original winemakers and his experience guides the expression towards subtlety and elegance. The ‘Boulder Rows’ is Tupari’s first ‘alternative’ and more complex style of Sauvignon Blanc, Glenn employing full barrel-ferment in old oak, with high solids and batonnage to capture the flinty characters. The wine has a pale straw-green colour. The nose is indeed elegant, but concentrated with green stonefruit, soft herb and delicate flinty reductive complexities. Slender on the palate, this is soft-textured and very stylish, with notable linearity. This is how to do it with sensitivity. (18.0/20)

Simon McGeorge – Waipara Hills

Waipara Hills ‘Equinox’ Waipara Valley Chardonnay 2013
The limited edition ‘Equinox’ tier for Waipara Hills (and Accolade) has been a star performer with the very experienced and thoughtful winemaker Simon McGeorge responsible for their production. From an excellent, warm and dry vintage, this has retained elegance and is still youthfully tight. But the complexing detail of flint adds to the near unctuous, creamy barrel-ferment textures and stylish citrussy fruit. Fermented in puncheons with 25% new oak, lees work and 100% MLF. This will only get richer and more interesting with time in the bottle. (18.0/20)

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