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, April 28, 2009


Veraison (vay-ray-zon) is a French term that has been adopted into the English literature on viticulture/ grape growing. One simple definition of veraison is 'change of colour of the grape berries'. Veraison represents the transition period from berry growth to berry ripening, and many changes in berry development occur during veraison.
The exact trigger of veraison is unknown, but veraison signifies the grape seed reaching maturity. However, seed maturity is unlikely the cause, as seedless berries also go through veraison.
In the northern hemisphere veraison, the ripening grapes begin to soften and change colour typically occurs anywhere from late June to mid-August, depending on the climate, and in the southern hemisphere from January to February.

During veraison tannins ripen and astringent malic acid begins to give way to softer tartaric acid. Leaves are often pruned, thinned at this time to give grapes more sun and air exposure. Mildew and disease are still a worry to viticulturists and spraying may continue in some vineyards. Sugar levels begin in individual grapes after veraison. At this stage, vines are rarely irrigated after veraison because this can/will dilute the grapes flavours.
A little winemaking 101 - As the seeds ripen so does the rest of the grape. In this process called veraison, the hard green skins soften and change to either red-black (due to anthocyanins) or yellow-green (due to carotenoids) depending on the grape variety. At this time of year, sugars and berry volume increase and acidity decreases as the grapes reach the home stretch before harvest.
Overall, the berry approximately doubles in size (primarily water) between the beginning of the second growth period, veraison and harvest. Also during the veraison period it is the start of each grape taking on the characteristics of their specific varieties. Grapes are then usually harvested 40-60 days later, depending on the growing season, style of wine and varietal.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mendoza - Argentina

Argentina is located between the latitudes of 22 - 55 south of the equator. With an area four times bigger than that of France, and with a population of approximately 39 million people. Argentina is one of the ecological treasures of the world, and it is definitely a very unique country in South America. Incredible prairies and marvellous agricultural lands make Argentina one of the most well-known grain and meat exporters worldwide. This international recognition also includes viticulture, with vineyards spreading from north to south, alongside the Andes mountain range.
Mendoza is Argentina's centre of quality and accounting for over 80% of total production, from its 146,000 hectares of vineyards - (or to put it another way, over half of the entire wine production of South America). The basic wine geography in Mendoza can be divided in 5 great areas. Each of them presenting specific characteristics and differentiating from one another quite notably according to location, height and soil composition. Northern Mendoza - Eastern Mendoza - Mendoza River Area - Uco Valley and Southern Mendoza.

In the rain shadow of the Andes, Argentina is for the most part an arid landscape, but like Chile it benefits from a supply of irrigating water off the mountains. Unlike Chile however, the generally warmer inland region can support vine growing down the length of the country. In the north, the vineyards lie at the same latitude as Morocco; in the south, vineyards share latitude with New Zealand. One of the keys to growing quality wine grapes here is altitude, with vineyards planted at between 2,000 and 3,000 feet above sea-level to exploit the cooler temperatures.
A quality-oriented industry is developing towards the constant search of vineyard and terroir improvements. Certainly, Mendoza holds an enviable diversity in this respect. Producers like Chakana make fine Cabernet, Merlot and increasingly impressive Syrah’s and Malbecs. Many wineries have been subject to foreign investment from top European houses. Some superb Malbecs are being made in the sub-region of Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Aromas & Bouquets

Wine engages all the senses: sight, smell, taste, mouth feel - even sound when glasses touch in a toast. To fully enjoy fine wine, don't be afraid to savour every sensation - especially its aroma.
It is through the aromas of wine that wine is actually tasted. The human tongue is limited to the primary tastes perceived by taste receptors on the tongue; sweetness, acidity, saltiness and bitterness. The wide array of fruit, earthy, floral, herbal, mineral and oak flavours perceived in wine are derived from aroma notes.
In professional wine tasting, there is a distinction made between 'aromas' and a wine's 'bouquet' while in casual tastings these two terms are used interchangeably. An aroma refers to the smells unique to the grape variety and is most readily demonstrated in a varietal wine such as Turkish-delight with Gewurztraminer or black currant with Cabernet Sauvignon.

These are smells that are commonly associated with a young wine. As wine ages chemical reactions among sugars, acids, and alcohol and phenolics create new smells that are known as a wine's bouquet. These can include honey in an aged Sauternes or truffles in a Pinot Noir. The term bouquet can also be expanded to include the smells derived from fermentation, winemaking and oak, barrel treatment. In Burgundy, aromas are divided into three categories; primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary aromas are those specific to the grape variety. Secondary aromas are those derived from fermentation and oak aging. Tertiary aromas are those that develop through bottle age.
Detecting an aroma is only part of wine tasting. The next step is to describe that aroma, and it is in this step that the subjective nature of wine tasting appears. Different individuals have their own personal way of describing familiar aromas based on their own unique experiences. In addition there are varying levels of sensitivity thresholds among people. This is why one taster may describe different aromas than another taster sampling the very same wine at the same time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Stainless Steel Tanks

The process of wine production has remained much the same throughout the ages, but new sophisticated machinery and technology have helped streamline and increase the output of wine. Whether such advances have enhanced the quality of wine is, however, a subject of debate. These advances include a variety of; mechanical harvesters, grape crushers and temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks to name a few.
The procedures involved in creating wine are often times dictated by the grape and the amount and style of wine being produced. Certain types of wine require the winemaker to monitor and regulate the amount of yeast, the fermentation process, temperature and other steps in the winemaking process. A universal factor in the production of fine wine is timing and the control from each step to the next, stainless steel tanks are one of the tools a winemaking uses to have more control.

Red wines are generally fermented in large open-topped stainless steel tanks or neutral wood vats that don't add flavour to the wines. In order to extract colour and tannins from the skins, the 'cap' (skins that bind together on the surface of the must) needs to be broken up and submerged at least three times a day. This process can be done manually, but today is more often done by machines.
or white wines, the two most common fermentation vessels are stainless steel and oak. Stainless steel tanks retain fresh fruit flavours and prevent the wine from overheating during fermentation. Oak barrels add flavours, concentrate the flavours (through evaporation) and make the wine seem richer.
In the mid 1950's no more than 3 wineries in the world were using temperature controlled fermenting tanks. 1961 - Chateau Haut Brion installed Bordeaux's first stainless steel tanks for temperature controlled fermentation. Today almost every Champagne House ferments their base wines in stainless steel tanks and stores their 'reserve' wines in stainless steel tanks for up to 10 years for blending.