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 31, 2009


Researchers believe that Merlot is an offspring of Cabernet Franc and is a sibling of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is lower in tannins and makes wines that mature faster and are softer in texture. Merlot is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon in order to soften the blend. At its best, Merlot makes a wine that is dry, rich in flavour and smooth as it finishes on your palate.
Merlot is able to mature in regions that are cooler than those required for Cabernet Sauvignon. Though Merlot is more susceptible to fungus and mold diseases and therefore a bit harder to grow. Merlot varies widely in quality around the world depending on the location and winemaker. This variety was first known for its success in the Saint Emilion and Pomerol areas of Bordeaux. Chateau Petrus is the stellar example of fine Merlot.

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes in Bordeaux wine where it is the most widely planted grape. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world's most planted grape varieties. 
Merlot usually has ripe berry components in the bouquet. Its wines tend to be soft, fruity and smooth in texture. Select Merlots can have long aging potential but most are ready to consume in 4 to 8 years. Merlot is enjoying a surge in popularity and additional acreage is being planted in many major wine producing regions.
Merlot should be served at approx. 18 degrees Celsius. When alcohol reaches 22-23 degrees C. (the average room temperature in summer), it is likely to cause an unpleasant sharpness in the taste. Cooling the bottle for 10-15 minutes (but not much longer) in a fridge can be a good way to reach the desired serving temperature in summer time. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is white wine grape variety. The best-known 'white' variant-clone of the Pinot Noir grape, it normally has a grayish-blue hue to the skin, accounting for its name ('gris' meaning 'grey' in French) but the grape can have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance. The word 'Pinot', means 'pinecone' in French, could have been given to it because the grapes grow in small pinecone-shaped clusters. The wines produced from this grape also vary in colour from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. The clone of Pinot Gris grown in Italy is known as Pinot Grigio.

Alsace - A major grape variety in Alsace, the Pinot Gris wine produced here are markedly different from Pinot Gris found elsewhere. The cool climate of Alsace and warm volcanic soils are particularly well suited for Pinot Gris, with its dry autumns allowing plenty of time for the grapes to hang on the vines, often resulting in wines of powerful flavours.

Italy - Pinot Grigio is a popular planting in north-eastern Italy in regions such as Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In Italy, where the grape is known as Pinot Grigio, plantings can be found in the Lombardy region and in Alto Adige, Italy's northern most wine region.
Wines made from the Pinot Gris vary greatly and are dependent on the region and wine making style. Alsatian Pinot Gris are medium to full bodied wines with a rich, floral bouquet. They tend to be spicy in comparisons with other Pinot Gris. While most Pinot Gris are meant to be consumed early, Alsatian Pinot Gris can age well. German Pinot Gris are more full-bodied with a balance of acidity and slight sweetness.
The Pinot Grigio style of Italy is a light-bodied, often lean wine that is light in colour with sometimes spritzy flavours that can be crisp with natural acidity. The style(s) from different regions in New Zealand are still to define a unique character; but wines can have a rich, flinty, fruit-laden character, with hints of Lychee and Nashi Pear on the palate, Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Hundreds of books have been written on Bordeaux; its history (temporarily ruled by the English), its wines (one of the biggest wine regions in the world, wines ranging from large quantities of everyday table wine, to some of the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world), its Terroir (mainly alluvial soil made of stones and debris), its climate (hot but exposed to maritime weather which can create havoc at the time of harvest), and finally, its people (dynasties of negociants or aristocratic owners of the most famous Chateaux).
Bordeaux consists of relatively plain topography: flat and mostly devoid of trees. Two long rivers, the Garonnne and Dordogne, split the region in half and then join together into the Gironde River that flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Despite the plain character of the landscape, this region consists of the exact elements that produce wines of finesse, subtly and ageing. The moderate climate from the Atlantic and rivers creates a warming effect, protecting Bordeaux from frost. The gravel soil drains rain water away from the vine roots, allowing the damp resistant Cabernet Sauvignon grape to fully mature.


Bordeaux is subject to variable vintages, some hot and dry, and some very wet and cool. To combat this inconsistency, Bordeaux blends together a variety of grapes that grow and mature at different stages. Therefore, a Bordeaux red may consist of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (with small percentages of Petit Verdot and Malbec in some vineyards). A Bordeaux white is often the blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. These blends create well-balanced wines with good acidity, minerality and fruit character.
One important fact of the Bordeaux region compared to, say Burgundy, is that it is the land of blending. To the best of my knowledge, no Bordeaux red or white is made with one single grape; it is always a complex blend of at least two, more frequently three varietals for the reds as well as the whites. Bordeaux is a life-long love affair. Enjoy.

Related Articles:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc
Cru Bourgeois
En Premeur
First Growths
Garage Wines
・ Malbec
Petit Verdot
Second Label 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine. This is the grape of the world's greatest and most expensive dry white wines. It is believed to have originated in the Burgundy wine region of central France but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand.
For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a 'rite of passage' and an easy transition into the international wine market. Chardonnay is relatively easy to grow in a wide range of climates and soil (it excels in poor, stony, chalky, clay-limestone soil) and although resistant to moulds and cold weather this early ripening variety is prone to frost damage.
The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the grape being derived from such influences as 'terroir' and 'oak'.  Because of its 'non-aromatic' personality, Chardonnay responds well to winemaker influences: oak aging, high skin pigmentation, practice of extended skin contact, barrel fermentation, malolactic fermentation etc, which will influence the final wine style.


It is vinified in many different styles, from the elegant, 'flinty' wines of Chablis to rich, buttery Meursaults and New World wines with tropical, stone fruit flavours. It is capable of producing high sugars (and therefore alcohol) although these develop slowly in cool climates, just as acids can fall rapidly in hot climates.
Chardonnay is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne. A peak in popularity in the late 1980s through until the mid '90s gave way to a backlash among those wine drinkers who saw the grape as a leading negative component of the globalization of wine. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most widely-planted grape varieties worldwide and planted in more wine regions than any other grape. 

Note: Remember not to serve Chardonnay too chilled; unoaked styles 8-10C, and oaked styles can be from 10-12C degrees.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The process of making wine (in theory) is quite simple. Single cell plants of the genus 'Saccharomyces' consume sugar in grapes and transform it into approximately equal parts of alcohol and carbon dioxide. It is the single celled plants that we commonly call 'yeasts' that are the real winemakers. The humans who take the name 'winemaker' can largely be called technicians.
A large percentage of winemaking has little to do with the winemaker. A winemaker's main concern in the early stage of winemaking is to prevent spoilage of the juice, expressing some style characteristics and then when ready - bottling it. In other words, the yeast is doing a great deal of the work and making the wine.

To develop a good understand how wine is made, as opposed to preserved, you need only to understand the fermentation process.  If there is an art to winemaking, and there certainly is, then it is the art of controlling the chosen yeast for the grape variety and style of wine required. It is the art of selecting the appropriate yeast, introducing it at the correct moment, feeding and nurturing it so as to entice it into living, reproducing and dying in a set manner, and then cleaning up after it so as to preserve the fruit characters after its hard work. It is the art of controlling the temperature, the amount and kind of air it is allowed to breathe, and feeding it the sugar and other nutrients it needs to serve the winemaker. For it is not in the nature of yeast to serve anyone, but rather yeast exists to serve yeast. Controlling yeast is the real art of making wine.
It is very important to use high quality yeast in all your winemaking. Yeast is the workhorse that converts the initial sweet syrupy must into great-tasting wine. It is also not surprising that the finest winemakers use quality dried wine yeast. If you're making wine, you want the best.
'Wild yeast' - that is a topic all on its own, so watch this space for another article in the future.