About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Decanting Wine

Before wines were routinely fined and filtered to a crystal clear state, it was quite common for wines poured from a bottle to contain a considerable degree of solid matter. In order to avoid bringing an unsightly looking wine to the table, it was quite the norm to decant the wine into a clear receptacle. The need for such a receptacle led to the development of the varied decanters available today.

Most wines today, have no real need for decanting to the same degree as was required in the past. The modern winemaking process ensures that wine is thoroughly clarified before it is bottled, by a process of fining (passing egg whites, Bentonite clay or other substances through to fine and collect solid matter) and mechanical filtration. Although these wines are often best served from the bottle (after all, you've paid for a finished wine), many benefit from decanting.


Wines which have aged in the bottle, typically red wines, will generally throw sediment by ten years of age. Not only is this sediment displeasing to the eye, it can also be quite unpleasant on the palate. These are the wines that deserve decanting, (giving wine respect).

Young wines also benefit from decanting, although the aim is not to take the wine off its sediment (there is rarely sediment in young wines), but rather to aerate the wine.
The action of decanting, the surface area in contact with the air in the decanter, alters the wine, softening its youthful bite, astringency and acidity, encouraging the development of more complex aromas that normally develop with years in the bottle.

For this reason, even inexpensive wines can benefit from decanting, if a first taste reveals a tannic, grippy, astringent structure, but good fruit in the background.

Having confidence in the wine and giving it time to breathe will bring back the harmony of all these unique and exciting components, layers and flavours in the wine and bring them into balance to your taste buds.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cognac - the region and the spirit.

The town of Cognac gives its name to one of the world's best-known types of brandy - Cognac is considered to be one of the finest, if not the finest, of the spirits. Drinks that bear this name must be made in certain areas around the town of Cognac and must be made according to strictly-defined regulations in order to be granted the name Cognac.

The region authorised to produce Cognac is divided up into six growth areas, or crus (singular cru). The six crus are, in order of decreasing appreciation of the Cognacs coming from them: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne (also known as "Petite Fine Champagne"), Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois, and Bois Ordinaires.


A cognac made from just the first two of these crus (with at least 50% from Grande Champagne) is called "fine champagne cognac" ("champagne" coming in both cases from archaic words meaning chalky soil, a characteristic of both areas).

Even within the defined region, if a brandy is produced that fails to meet any of the strict criteria set down by the governing body of cognac production,- it may not be called Cognac, nor sold as such. Brandy produced elsewhere in France or any other part of the world cannot legally be called "Cognac".

It must be produced within the delimited region, from wine using predominantly Ugni Blanc grapes and up to 10 other recognised white varieties;

The unofficial grades used to market Cognac include:
(Very Special) or  (three stars), where the youngest brandy is stored at least two years in barrel.

VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), or Reserve, where the youngest brandy is stored at least four years in barrel.

XO (Extra Old), Napoleon, Hors d'Age, where the youngest brandy is stored at least six years in cask. Many of the top Cognac houses, including Otard, use these guidelines as a minimum.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chablis - the village and the wine.

The Chablis wine region is the northernmost area of Burgundy, and also the name of a town located there. The Burgundy wine region begins in the Yonne Valley, roughly midway between Paris and Dijon. It is more widely known as Chablis, a bit of a misnomer as Chablis is only one of its 5 primary vineyard areas, the other villages: Auxerre, Tonnerre, Joigny and Vezelay.

The Appellation d'Origine Controlee system divides the region into 4 classifications: Petit Chablis AOC, Chablis AOC, Chablis Premier Cru AOC and Chablis Grand Cru AOC.


All wines in the appellations are white wines from Chardonnay grapes (although there are some minor appellations that produce wines from Pinot Noir, Aligote, Sauvignon etc). The Yonne Valley produces a great diversity of wine, there is sparkling wine, Cremant de Bourgogne, produced throughout the Yonne.The area is made up of 20 or so small villages clustered around the centrally located village of Chablis, which is divided in two by the Serein River.
The Grand Crus of Chablis are connected on a chain of 3 interlocking slopes on the right bank overlooking the Serein.
The 7 Grand Cru vineyards are - Blanchot, Les Clos, Valmur, Grenouilles, Vaudesir, Les Preuses and Bougros.
The 82 Premier Crus are situated on a series of hillsides both on the left and right side of the river. The best Premier Crus are, like the Grand Crus, on the right bank facing the southwest.

The soil is a unique combination of clay and chalk called 'Kimmeridgian', and it is profusely littered by fossils of oysters. It gives the wines a unique profile of aromas and flavours. It is often referred to as a gout de la pierre la fusil, or gunflint character. The fruit flavour is less intense than elsewhere in Burgundy, as Chablis' northern location produces flavours of green apples, pineapples and pink grapefruit. The wines are also typified by their strong acidity, often requiring time in the bottle to age and find balance.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Chianti - the region and the wine.

Chianti is Italy's most famous red wine, which takes its name from a traditional region of Tuscany where it is produced. It used to be easily identified by its squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called fiasco ('flask'); however, the fiasco is only used by a few winemakers now; most Chianti is bottled in traditionally shaped wine bottles. Easy drinking Chianti is generally fairly inexpensive, with basic Chianti running less than NZ$20 for a bottle. More sophisticated Chianti, however, are made and sold at substantially higher prices.


Until the middle of the 19th century Chianti was based solely on Sangiovese grapes. During the second half of the 19th century Baron Bettino Ricasoli who was an important Chianti producer and, in the same time, minister in Tuscany and then Prime Minister in the Kingdom of Italy, imposed his ideas: Chianti should be produced with 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia Bianca.

During the 1970s, producers started to reduce the quantity of white grapes in Chianti and eventually from 1995 it is legal to produce Chianti with 100% Sangiovese, or at least without the white grapes. It may have a picture of a black rooster (known as - gallo nero) on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the "Gallo Nero" Consortium; an association of producers of the Classico sub-area sharing marketing costs.

Since 2005 the black rooster is the emblem of the Chianti Classico producers association. Aged Chianti (38 months instead of 4-7), may be labeled as Riserva. Chianti that meets more stringent requirements, (lower yield, higher alcohol content and dry extract) may be labeled as Chianti Superiore. Chianti from the 'Classico' sub-area is not allowed in any case to be labeled as 'Superiore'.

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