THIRTY years ago Mark Hastwell and Martin Lightfoot shared media-related careers in Adelaide, a decade-long friendship and highly competitive weekly games of squash.
They and their wives also harboured a great love of collecting and drinking wine, which led them into a much more physically demanding vinous undertaking.
Mark and Wendy Hastwell and Martin and Jill Lightfoot formed a partnership in May 1988 to buy a nine-hectare property on Foggo Road on the northern deep sand slopes of McLaren Vale.
Some of the land once carried grenache vines, which had been ripped out in the South Australian 1982 vine-pull scheme, and the Hastwells and Lightfoots and their families wasted no time in beginning two months after their purchase to replant a vineyard.
Mark, who headed a media advertising buying firm, and Martin, a media and marketing man who worked on campaigns for such companies as Seppelt and Orlando, were in the forefront.
In Martin’s words “we dug a lot holes and planted a heap of vines – but it was fun”.
The hard work didn’t deter them from buying another nearby property which now gives Hastwell & Lightfoot 16 hectares of vines and a hectares of olive trees.
The first Hastwell & Lightfoot brand wine from two-year-old vines was a mere 60 dozen cases of 1990 cabernet sauvignon.
Today it produces 4500 cases for the domestic market and exports to the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.
As the partnership now notches up its 30th anniversary, Mark and Martin remain good friends and joint chief executives.
In addition Mark still runs an Adelaide travel agency business and Martin is Hastwell & Lightfoot’s marketing chief – a job he delights in describing as “working in a big green office”.
The business has progressed with younger members of the two families becoming involved.
Martin and Wendy’s son James Hastwell has been the winemaker since 2003, Martin’s nephew Richard McGeachy is vineyard manager and other family members have roles.
The two vineyards’ varietal mix has progressed since 2000 with Mediterranean grapes being introduced.
Today the portfolio includes fiano, vermentino, barbera, pinot grigio, tempranillo and montepulciano along with traditional cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, shiraz, chardonnay and viognier wines.
The vines are unique in McLaren Vale by all growing on American rootstocks.
The 2016 Sands of Time Shiraz reviewed below comes from the partnership’s flagship shiraz marque and gets its name from the deep sand built up on the McLaren Vale ridges by tens of millennia of westerly wind drift from coastal dunes.
A TIMELY SHIRAZ DROP
THIS Hastwell & Lightfoot 2016 Sands of Time Shiraz has 14% alcohol, deep purple hues and mocha coffee aromas. The front palate shows ripe juicy plum flavour, the middle palate dried cranberry, licorice, peppermint chocolate and savoury oak and the finish chalky tannins. It’s at hastwellandlightfoot.com.au and the 301 Foggos Rd cellar door. PRICE: $30. DRINK WITH: T-bone. AGEING: six years.
RATING: 4.5 stars
VINES HAPPILY REBORN
THE d’Arenberg 2014 The Derelict Vineyard Grenache is from an abandoned vineyard Chester Osborn revived. It has 14.5% alcohol, garnet hues, fruitcake scents and big blackberry front-palate flavour. The middle palate has bramble jelly, spice, cloves and toasty oak and the finished minty tannins. At darenberg.com.au and thecellar door. PRICE: $29. DRINK WITH: lamb roast. AGEING: seven years.
RATING: 4.5 stars
GHOSTLY ROSÉ ZINGS
ANOTHER lively McLaren Vale drop from the Agnew group: the Cockfighter’s Ghost 2018 Sangiovese Rosé has 12.5% alcohol, pale fairy floss hues, zingy raspberry front-palate flavour, pomegranate, apple, spearmint and flint on the middle palate and steely acid at the finish. At cockfightersghost.com.au and the De Beyers Rd, Pokolbin, winery. PRICE: $25. DRINK WITH: antipasto. AGEING: drink now.
RATING: 4.5 stars