Wine of the week – big, bold, brand new Chardonnay

Father-son winemaking team Willy (left) and John Hancock launch their first family brand, Hancock & Sons

Here’s a new brand from an old hand, namely John Hancock and his sons, who have grown up and joined their winemaking father – well, one of them has, namely, Willy Hancock, pictured above.

The father and son winemaking team have released two new wines under their brand banner, Hancock & Sons Their concept is to work with grape growers from a range of regions in New Zealand, utilising the grape varieties best suited to each place.

The winemaking duo released their first two wines with a website to support sales and marketing for the dry, full bodied Chardonnay and the fresh, pale, dry rosé. Quantities are small, to date, and the wines are made at Moana Park Winery where John Hancock also works as winemaker.
Willy Hancock is a winemaker at Church Road Winery.

The Chardonnay was my pick of the first pair in the new launch and grapes for this wine were hand picked from a three hectare, organically farmed vineyard at Paritua in Bridge Pa, Hawke’s Bay. Soils in this sub region are sandy loam over red metal, which is warm and free draining. These factors, allied to the inland area in the Bay mean that the location warmer than coastal areas in the region. Cool nights mean the grapes can retain their  acidity, which  comes through in the two new wines and adds great balance to the Chardonnay, which is my wine of the week – for last week, that is.

This blog is published later than usual, due to heavy writing commitments last week, which included obituaries for wine scribe, Raymond Chan, who passed away on 10 February. His passing is a great loss for the New Zealand wine industry and will be marked with a wake in Martinborough on Friday 1 March.

Today marks another great loss for New Zealand with the passing of writer Peter Wells. He leaves a significant literary legacy for all New Zealanders. Here is a toast to both men.

Wine of the week

2018 Hancock & Sons Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay

4.5 stars

The Chardonnay was made from clone 95, which was whole bunch pressed and settled overnight to minimise any struck match character. Pre fermentation oxidative handling of the juice was used to further reduce any hint of this character and father-son winemakers John and Willy Hancock then added a malic acid utilising yeast to convert most of the malic acids in the grapes while retaining low pH in the wine. It was aged one third in barrel and two thirds in stainless steel; both on yeast lees for seven months with approximately 15% of the oak being new 225 litre French barrels.

More online at

Tasting note…

Dry, nutty, full bodied and lingering, this Chardonnay has all the recognisable big bells – it’s dry, full bodied and nutty, with fresh lingering flavours, thanks to vibrant balanced acidity. 4.5 stars

Joelle Thomson


About the Hancocks…

Australian born John Hancock is a 1973 graduate from Roseworthy College in Adelaide. He worked in the Barossa Valley, Riverland and Rutherglen, Victoria, before moving to New Zealand where he became known as Mr Chardonnay for the big, buttery, barrel fermented Chardonnays he made at Morton Estate and Delegats before establishing Trinity Hill Winery in the Gimblett Gravels area in 1996. He has also worked vintages in the Rhone Valley and Burgundy.
His son, Willy Hancock, is a graduate in winemaking and viticulture from  Plumpton College. He has worked vintages in Sancerre, Bordeaux, California and California.
The new Hancock & Sons brand is family owned and is mostly available online with small amounts also going into the restaurant trade and retail.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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