The media release describes him as a legend of the Australian wine industry.
I wouldn’t go quite that far, but Chris Hancock certainly does carry with him some serious winemaking cred.
In 1963, he graduated as dux of his year in oenology from South Australia’s Roseworthy Agricultural College, a veritable production line of great Australian winemakers.
He worked with Penfolds’ Max Schubert — now, there’s a legend — on several vintages of Grange, certainly Australia’s most celebrated top-grade red wine and arguably its best as well.
He was an integral component of the Hunter Valley’s Rosemount winemaking team, which was a major factor in revolutionising the country’s wine market in the 1970s and 1980s.
Now, Chris Hancock finally has his own label — Hancock & Hancock, the other half being his brother John, a partner in their La Colline vineyard at McLaren Vale, on the outskirts of Adelaide.
They purchased well established La Colline, with vines up to 80 years old, in 2007 and it is the grapes from this home vineyard that are at the heart of the first two Hancock & Hancock releases.
Chris worked a vintage in McLaren Vale while studying at Roseworthy and fell in love with the district’s “rolling hills, wide valleys and proximity to the Southern Ocean”.
Perhaps it’s that early love affair which explains Rosemount’s expansion many years later from the Hunter to the Vale.
That and, no doubt, the area’s ability to produce such gorgeous, rich, full-bodied red wines.
The wines are distributed by Oatley Family Wine Merchants, whose principal, Robert Oatley was also a driving force behind Rosemount.
Hancock & Hancock 2014 Shiraz Grenache $24: This may be only 27 per cent grenache but it’s that variety’s sweetly perfumed aromas that lead this wine, followed closely by the spice and dark berry flavours of fully ripe warm-climate shiraz. It’s a red with obvious medium-term cellaring potential but, really, it hits the spot right now. buywine.robertoatley.com.au
Hancock & Hancock 2014 Cabernet Touriga $24: Some 80 per cent of the blend here is cabernet sauvignon and it certainly holds court, thrusting forward its regal herbaceous and cassis flavours. Touriga — a Portuguese variety most commonly associated with fortified wines — provides a very dry, savoury finishing edge. buywine.robertoatley.com.au
Pipers Brook 2014 Riesling $34: Pristine is the first word that comes to mind when tasting this wine — the same word so often used in describing the Tasmanian environment from where it originated. It explodes with the variety’s hallmark citrus aromas, which follow through on to a crisp, fresh palate crying out for grilled fish with a gently spicy sauce. kreglingerwineestates.com
Toolangi 2013 Pinot Noir $28: When cool-climate pinot noir is done well and sits alongside a serving of roast duck it constitutes one of the world’s great food-wine pairings. And this example from Victoria’s Yarra Valley is certainly done well, brimming with the variety’s renowned red-berry aromas and bouncy medium-bodied palate. www.toolangi.com