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 24, 2009


Gewürztraminer is a variation of the Traminer grape meaning 'of the village of Tramin', 'Termeno' in the Alto Adige in the far north of Italy where it was popular between the 11th and 16th centuries. It is a variation of the distinct and ancient Muscat grape. The name Gewurz is curious in that, although its German translation means 'spicy' - in fact the official protected name only occurred in 1973, it's French and Italian names (traminer-musque, traminer-parfume, and termener-aromatico) lead one to believe that the wine's perfumes would indicate a more accurate translation.
Roses, flowers and Turkish-delight are generally the most common aromas, followed by lychee's and even grapefruit. Plus cloves and nutmeg are also noted, thus the spice references. Differences could be attributed to the terroir, except that the one characteristic of this grape family is that they give their intense flavour to the wine independent of where they are grown. A better answer might lie in climate; a cooler climate with a long, slow ripening season seems to produce the superior expressions of this wine. 
Perhaps the Germans felt, at the start of the Gewürztraminer renaissance in Alsace in the late 19th century, their words for aroma and perfume, being taken from the French, did not suit their patriotic pride. One could also speculate that the fact that Gewürztraminer is very often suggested as a compliment to spicy foods (Asian and Latin American) or sausages, pork and sauerkraut - could have influenced its name.
Gewürztraminer wine can be dry to very sweet and is known for its high alcohol, low acidity and golden colour. It is a powerful wine that likes powerful foods. It can also be used as a dessert wine or to accompany rich cheese such as Munster. Interestingly, the cheese is commonly served with bowls of caraway, cumin or fennel seeds which are sprinkled on the cheese as you eat it. The more one learns about Alsace, the more one understands why they might name their wine 'Spicy Tramin'.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chilling Red Wine

There are certain types of light red wines that lend themselves particularly well to being slightly chilled when matched with food, especially with fish such as seared salmon and tuna. They include early drinking styles of Pinot Noir, Beaujolais and other wines made from the Gamay grape.
White wines get their structure from acidity; reds rely on a combination of acidity and tannins for their substance. If you chill a red wine, this exaggerates the tannins, gives the wine more structure, and makes it less expressive on the nose. Conversely, as a red warms up, the tannins become less apparent and the wine becomes more volatile. While you would think that it is a good idea to warm reds up to make them more expressive on the nose, what actually happens is that as a red is overheated, the nose loses focus: there's quite a narrow window of temperatures where a wine shows well.

On a cold winter's evening, I often find red wines at room temperature are just too cold to be enjoyable. They are shy on the nose and harshly structured. In the summer, however, I'll often pop reds in the fridge for 15 minutes before opening, as at a room temperature of 25C+ they can be unfocused. Some light reds, such as those from Beaujolais, often benefit from being chilled down much as you might do with an opulent white.
The serving temperature has a startling effect on the taste of a wine. While you don't have to get it accurate within a fraction of a degree, it's worth paying attention to. In general, watch out for serving red wines too warm; it's much easier to warm a wine up in the glass than it is to cool it down.
You have probably heard that red wines should be served at room temperature, and you are partly right. However, the term 'room temperature' refers to rooms in Europe way back when, and they were around 15-18C, not the 23C we find in modern homes. The slightly colder temperature slows the evaporation of alcohol, thus improving the aroma, flavour, and making the wine smoother.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The Muscat family of grapes is widely grown for wine, raisins and table grapes. Their colour ranges from white to near black. Muscat wines almost always have a pronounced sweet floral aroma. Muscat grapes are grown around the world in Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Israel, France, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Australia, Oregon, Hungary, Canada, Italy, Albania, Turkey, Slovenia, Chile and several other places. The breadth and number of varieties of Muscat suggest that it is perhaps the oldest domesticated grape variety, and there are theories that most families within the Vitis vinifera grape family are descended from the Muscat family.

Varieties of Muscat:

Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains: This grape is used for, Clairette de Die, and Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. It is also used for some Tokaji wines in Hungary.

Muscat of Alexandria: This grape is used for Sherry, moscatel or muscatel wines.

In Italy, it is widely used in sweeter sparkling wines like Asti. Their 'grapey' quality makes many wines made from Muscat easy to identify. Moscato d'Asti is a lightly sparkling (frizzante) variety of Muscat, made from the Moscato Bianco grape of the Piedmont region in Italy.

Muscat grapes are used to make a variety of sweet dessert wines in various parts of the world.

Typically, these are fortified wines, though some sweet late harvest and noble rot wines are also made from Muscat.

France produces a number of sweet fortified 'vins doux naturels' from Muscat grapes, such as Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.
In Alsace, Muscat is primarily a lighter style white wine, but can also be made in sweeter styles (Vendange Tardive and Selection de Grains Nobles).

Muscat wine is also the basis for Pisco, a brandy-like drink made in Peru and Chile, and Metaxa, a brandy-like drink made in Greece.

Muscat grapes have been found to have high concentrations of antioxidant flavonoids, in quantities as high as many varieties of red grapes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Charmat Method

Metodo Italiano - Charmat process, in which the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in large stainless tanks rather than individual bottles, and is bottled under pressure in a continuous process.
The process was first studied by the Italian enologist Federico Martinotti and patented in 1907 by French winemaker Eugene Charmat. In the late 1930s the process was totally redefined and completely renovated by Antonio Carpene Jr. to adapt it to the Italian Prosecco grapes. The secondary fermentation in tanks under this renovated method proved to be ideal for the Prosecco grapes and surpassing in many aspects the quality of secondary fermentation in individual bottles.

This procedure was implemented as a faster and less expensive way to produce large volumes of sparkling wines. For Martini Asti the process can take 6 months to produce a refreshing well balanced sparkling wine. Also known as the 'closed tank method' this process uses a large, pressurized stainless steel tank (autoclave) to create the bubbles which are so important to the characteristics of the sparkling wine. If needed, sugar is added with the yeast, allowing a second fermentation to take place quickly in the sealed tank as the yeast begins to develop the bubbles. With the use of refrigeration, temperatures are controlled to improve and maintain the quality of the wine. Following the fermentation, the wine is kept pressurized while bottled, to keep the bubbles fresh and plentiful.  
In Italy grape varieties, including Moscato, Prosecco, are best suited for fermentation in tanks. Charmat method sparkling wines can be produced at a slightly lower cost than 'methode champenoise' wines which are fermented in bottle. This method is used for 'Prosecco' and 'Asti' in particular, and produces medium to small size bubbles. This method is now used widely around the world to produce light, delicate, drink now sparkling wines. In other countries, winemakers use a mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blanc grapes in their blends.