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, March 25, 2008

Vermouth

Vermouth is a fortified wine, with a number of different aromatic herbs and spices added for flavour, also known as aromatized liquor. Vermouth is best known for its role in the popular cocktail, the Martini. Possibly the most respected French brand of vermouth in the world is Dolin, which has made some of the world's most famous cocktails. While in America and UK, if you order a Martini, you are likely to get a Gin or Vodka cocktail, in other parts of the world, ordering a Martini will get you a glass of sweet vermouth - popular as an aperitif.

 

There are different types of vermouth, ranging from dry vermouth used in popular cocktails to the very sweet white vermouth used as an aperitif. Sweet red vermouth also exists, although it is less sweet than its white cousin and semi-sweet vermouth that falls somewhere between dry and red is used as a mixer. Dry vermouth is approximately 18% alcohol and has up to 7% residual sugar left, while sweeter vermouths are around 16% alcohol and may have as much as 15% residual sugar.
Vermouth was created in the late 18th century by an Italian and was originally used as a tonic drink because of the healing herbs that went into its creation. These herbs included wormwood, nutmeg, coriander, juniper, orange peel, cloves, marjoram, and cinnamon. The name vermouth comes from the German word Wermut, which is the name for the wormwood plant, a herb also found in absinthe, helps to give vermouth its distinctive flavour. These aromatic herbs, although now a signature part of the taste, were originally used simply as an easy way to hide the flavour of the cheap wines used to produce vermouth.
Early vermouth was all sweet, made from red and white wines, and enjoyed primarily as an aperitif on its own. The French, 'Dolin' were involved with the promotion of dry vermouth in the early 19th century, and to this day, France is often associated with drier white vermouths and Italy with sweeter red vermouths, though both nations produce both in large quantities.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Loire Valley - the regions and the wines.

Often called the "Garden of France", the Loire Valley is a special place of vineyards, and rolling green hills dotted with more than a thousand Chateaux. It is perhaps the charm of its gentle pace of life that has, for centuries, made it a sought-after location for poets and writers.
From my own personal experience, the Loire Valley is a very special place. It is the home of a varied selection of wines, many of which I experienced for the first time on my first ever dedicated wine trip to the region several years ago, stopping off at different appellations along the way. Not only did I learn a lot about the wine and the people behind them, I developed many great friendships, which have drawn me to back time and again.

 

The Loire Valley produces high quality wines in all styles. All the wines, whatever their colour or style, share the characteristics that make Loire Valley wines unique: freshness, finesse and food friendliness.
Without doubt this infinite variety owes much to the region's history, but the soils, peppered with Tuffeau (limestone of which many of the local Chateaux are built), quartz, schist, phthanites, sandstone and more play an important role.
The area includes 87 appellations under the Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC), Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure (VDQS) and Vin de Pays systems.
While the majority of production is white wine from the Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet) grapes, there are red wines made (especially around the Chinon region) from Cabernet Franc. In addition to still wines, rose, sparkling and dessert wines are also produced.
With Cremant production throughout the Loire, it is the second largest sparkling wine producer in France after Champagne. With all these different wine styles, Loire wines tend to exhibit characteristic fruitiness with fresh, crisp flavours-especially in their youth and they match New Zealand's fresh, local cuisine very well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Valpolicella - the region and the wines.

The Valpolicella is a blend of history, culture and tradition, all enriched by mouthwatering cuisine. The traditional dishes of the area accompanied by the finest of its fruity, full-bodied wines: Valpolicella Classico, Superiore, Recioto, (Recioto della Valpolicella) and Amarone.

Valpolicella is a red wine produced in the foothills of the Alps, just north-west of Verona, in an area sandwiched between the mountains and Lake Garda. Regular Valpolicella has 11% alcohol and no more than 40-70% Corvina Veronese, 20-40% Rondinella and 5-20% Molinara, all indigenous grapes. The winemaker can also add up to 15% complementary varieties, which include Rossignola, Negrara, Trentina, Barbera and Sangiovese.

 

As a general characteristic the wines tend to have lively to powerful bouquet, full on the palate with good fruit, and a velvety aftertaste. They also tend to be less tannic than wines from Tuscany or Piedmont.
The traditional center of Valpolicella uses the name 'Valpolicella Classico' - about half of all Valpolicella falls into this category. Valpolicella should be enjoyed relatively cool about 13-14C. It is normally drunk quite young, within 3 years. It goes well with light dishes - pasta, pizza, pork, lamb and eggplant in red sauce.
Valpolicella Superiore is created with at least a year of aging, and must be 12% alcohol or more.
Recioto - straw wine, or raisin wine, is a wine made from grapes that have been dried to concentrate their juice. The classic method dries bunches of grapes on straw-mats in the sun, or under cover, some hang the grapes. The technique dates back to pre-Roman times. Straw wines are typically sweet to very sweet white wines, similar to Sauternes and capable of long life. The low yields and labour-intensive production means that they are quite expensive. Around Verona red grapes are dried, and are fermented in two different ways to make a sweet red wine (Recioto della Valpolicella) and a dry, rich, full-flavoured red wine called 'Amarone'.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Champagne

Champagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northern most vineyards in France - the name conjures an image like no other.
An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon was the first to document that the cold winters stopped still wine fermenting, then as the climate warmed, it started again. This second fermentation produced CO2 in the bottle, meaning the wines had a sparkle that was quite appealing. Unfortunately, the strength of this second fermentation frequently exploded the flimsy bottles of the day. Extra thick bottles were made in the UK - and as they say the rest is history.

 

Champagne is made from 3 grapes: Chardonnay, and two black grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Each plays their own part in the blend. Being a white wine from red grapes, this is a delicate process.
Champagne is made to a strictly controlled process called "Methode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented to make a still wine. Blending follows, then a blend of sugar and yeast is added and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped with a crown cap. Second fermentation, the CO2 that is lost to the air when making a still wine is captured inside the bottle. This process leaves sediment (dead yeast cells) that is extracted through a process of "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged."

After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add a natural sugar liqueur to determine the final sweetness of the wine. Champagnes range from dry, 'Brut', to slightly sweet, 'Demi-Sec'. Finally the wine is corked and labeled. Law requires 15 months ageing for non vintage Champagne, a few top houses age their wine longer to build greater complexity and depth - e.g. Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV is matured for 3 years. NV Champagne doesn't benefit from ageing, the winemaker has done all the hard work to make sure it is ready to drink when you buy it.

Related Articles:

Champagne Flute
Chardonnay
Cuvée
Epernay
Opening a bottle of Champagne
Pinot Meunier
Pinot Noir
Reims