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.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Balance of wine

A much used, but rarely defined wine term. A wines balance refers to how it handles the key components of alcohol, tannin, acidity and residual sugar. They combine to display initial sensations on the senses/ palate. Ideally these four components will be well-balanced one piece will not be more prominent than the others.
Good balance is one of the most desired traits in a wine; balanced wines are symmetrical and tend to age gracefully. Balance is a concept that on the surface seems very simple, but is quite challenging. By far the most straightforward balance is that between sugar and acidity. Not all wines, of course, have residual sugar, though all have some acidity.


In its simplest sense, a wine which has a good acid-sugar balance tastes neither too sweet nor too acidic: both exist in the right quantity. A wine with too little sugar for its acidity will taste harsh, sharp and acidic; the evolution of flavours in the mouth will be interrupted by the sensation of acidity. A wine with too much sugar will taste cloying and flabby on the palate.
The balance between astringency (tannins) and acidity in red wines is of paramount importance. The less tannic a wine is the more acidity it can support, if a red wine is high in tannins, the lower its acidity should/can be. Another important balance is that between alcohol and acidity/ astringency. This is obviously most relevant to red wines. Too little alcohol will cause the acidity and astringency to dominate, making the wine harsh and thin. Too little acid and astringency will cause a wine to taste overly soft, heavy and flabby.
Other aspects of wines which exist in balance are oak vs. fruit and age vs. youth. As you can imagine these are almost entirely in the realm of subjective response; some tasters love oaky wines, while others would call the same wine unbalanced. The temperature at which a wine is served can have a dramatic effect on the balance of its various elements, plus a wine's balance may only be realized after some time aging.

Torbreck 'Woodcutter's' Shiraz 2008

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: Barossa Valley, Australia

Owner/ Chief Winemaker: David Powell

91pts, Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front.

If you are someone that enjoys good food and sharing good times with special friends - enjoy confident, well made honest wines that over deliver on fruit, flavour and length - then Torbreck wines are for you.
Like all wines in the Torbreck stable, the fruit for this 'Woodcutter's Shiraz was sourced from hand harvested and hand tended plots throughout the North-western area of the Barossa Valley. It was fermented in their cement, wooden and inox vats for approximately 6-7 days and then basket pressed into well seasoned hogsheads and French oak foudres for 12 months. It was then bottled without the use of either fining or filtration, which only adds to its appeal.
The glass is filled with a black red colour, with a deep crimson hue. On the nose a fruit basket of violets, followed by fresh liquorice allsorts, vanilla and ripe blackberries. On the palate the wine is dense, rich and opulent; this wine combines great fruit purity with texture, complexity and finesse all in equal portions.
The mouth feel is all wrapped up in velvet tannins, presenting black pepper, ripe plum and dark chocolate on the back palate that lingers nicely. A good honest medium to full bodied red wine.
Decant for 15mins - Serve at 18C.

Drinking well these coming winter months; and over the next 3-4 years.

Perfect wine match with quality red meats, wine jus, roasted vegetables, and served in a large glass, enjoy.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The 'cap' is a mass of grape skins, pips and other solid matter that rises to the surface of the wine during alcoholic fermentation.
To make certain types of red wine, grapes are put through a crusher and then transferred into open fermentation tanks. Once fermentation begins, the grape skins are pushed to the surface by carbon dioxide gases released in the fermentation process. This layer of skins and other solids is known as the cap. As the skins are the source of colour, flavour and the tannins, the cap needs to be macerated (mixed) through the liquid each day, or 'punched', which traditionally is done by stomping through the vat, known as 'Pigeage' - a French winemaking term for the traditional stomping of grapes in open fermentation tanks.


The cap of grape skins and pulp floating on top of the juice in red-wine fermentation inhibits flavour and colour extraction, may rise to an undesirably high temperature, and may acetify if allowed to become dry. Such problems are avoided by submerging the floating cap several times a day during fermentation, to drown aerobic bacteria and encourage cuvaison (or contact). This operation, comparatively easy with small fermenters, becomes more difficult with large fermentation tanks.
A technique to extract these key red wine components is done by periodically pumping juice from the bottom of the tank over the cap. However, fine wine producers, to enhance the extraction of colour, flavour, and tannin from the skins, often prefer to punch/ plunge down the cap in order to submerge it in the juice, or even to drain the juice from the tank and then splash it back over the cap to encourage greater circulation of the cap throughout the juice (a technique known as 'rack and return').
Whatever method is chosen, fine wine producers often extend the maceration period beyond the end of fermentation to foster the full extraction of colour, aroma, flavour and tannin. Once this process is complete, the new wine is pressed off the skins and moved to oak barrels or stainless steel tanks, to commence the next stage in the winemaking, aging process.

Rimu Grove 'Bronte' Pinot Noir 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Nelson, New Zealand

Owner / Winemaker: Patrick Stowe

4 Stars - Michael Cooper's 2009 Buyers Guide.

If you have ever met Patrick Stowe - you will know what I mean when I describe him as a man with the passion and personality equal to that of all the cast from the stage show 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat' - all packed into a figure, that when he stands on this toes, reaches the safe height of possibly 5ft5. So with this in mind, I had a smile on my face even before I poured myself a glass of his 2007 'Bronte' Pinot Noir.
Patrick's attention to detail knows no bounds - and this is shown clearly in this wine which is a blend of four Pinot Noir clones: 10/5, 115, 667, & 777. The grapes were picked by hand and cold-soaked for 5-7 days. The wine was then fermented in small open-top fermenters and hand-plunged 3 times daily. The balanced palate weight and texture of the wine was achieved after being barrel-aged in French oak for 11 months.
In the glass you have a dark ruby colour. The bouquet has sweet ripe red fruit (raspberries and boysenberries) showing notes of forest floor mushrooms and floral aromas of roses and violets. The palate is concentrated with sweet ripe fruity flavours with juicy acidity. Well-integrated oak finished with fine-grained tannins that linger on the palate.
Decant for 15mins - Serve at approx 15-18C. *(Limited availability)

Drinking perfectly well this coming winter season; and over the next 2-3 years.

Perfect wine match with duck, lamb, pork, seared tuna, and semi-soft cheese, enjoy.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Taylors 'Jaraman' Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Growing Region: 54% Clare Valley & 46% Coonawarra, Australia

Chief Winemaker: Adam Eggins

Silver Medal - Vienna International Wine Challenge 2009.

Jaraman is the aboriginal word for seahorse and this range has been named after the fossilised remains of seahorses that were found on the family's Clare Valley estate and are present on all of the Taylors wine labels. Jaraman wines are created from the fusion of two exceptional parcels of fruit from iconic wine regions in Australia.
The result is a single variety wine which is multi-dimensional, highlighting and enhancing the nuances of both terroirs. The winemaking team of Mitchell, Adam and Helen has guided into the bottle a wine that will bring pleasure to any meal and occasion now and with patience over the next several years.
In the glass you will see a rich red colour with a bright red hue. On the nose the wine has lifted, fruit aromas of blackcurrant and morello cherry along with mint and secondary, complex aromas of dark chocolate, and mocha coffee.
The wine has ripe flavours of black cherry and cassis, followed by subtle secondary characters of cinnamon, spice and integrated cedar from appropriate French oak maturation. The palate is elegant with a long and persistent finish. Decant for 20-30 minutes and serve at 18C.

Drinking well now; and will age well for another 4-5 years.

Perfect wine match with prime cuts of red meats, jus reductions and ripe cheeses, enjoy.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wild Yeast

Yeast is used in winemaking where it converts the natural sugars present in grape juice or must into alcohol. Yeast is normally already invisibly present on the outside of the grapes. The fermentation can be done with this endogenous wild yeast; however, this may give unpredictable results depending on the exact types of yeast species present. For this reason pure cultured yeast is generally added to the must, which rapidly comes to dominate the fermentation. This represses the wild yeasts and ensures a reliable and predictable fermentation.


'Indigenous / Wild yeast'

For inoculated fermentations, the size of the inoculum which yeast manufacturers recommend adding is large enough to insure that the fermentation starts rapidly and is therefore dominated by this single strain. Many winemakers inoculate with a considerably smaller dose of yeast and they obtain some of the benefits of wild yeast fermentation. The result is a slower, longer fermentation, giving a foothold for native yeast to have an influence on the fermentation.
Most of France and much of Europe practice inoculated fermentations. The exceptions are some of the small estates in Burgundy and the Rhone who use native yeast in most years. For these smaller domaines, science and technology take a back seat to tradition, or 'doing it as their father did it.' While some NZ winemakers have embraced many traditional French winemaking techniques, natural yeast fermentations have caught on only in the last ten years or so.
Wild yeast is not the secret answer to making great wine. Rather, it is a piece of the puzzle - one in a number of ways to develop complexity in wines. This quality factor, coupled with the fact that the majority of winemakers feel these methods make their craft more interesting and challenging assures that the use of wild yeast will continue to grow in the production of interesting and dynamic wines.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Allan Scott 'Marlborough' Riesling 2008

Grape Variety: 100% Riesling

Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Winemaker: Josh Scott

I was quoted recently - describing Riesling as "a condiment with alcohol". I truly believe a bottle of Riesling should be on every New Zealand table when enjoying fresh shellfish, Asian, Pacific-rim cuisine, many vegetarian dishes and freshly tossed salads. When you serve these dishes, you finish them with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Well Riesling is the perfect condiment/ compliment to so many fresh dishes we enjoy on a daily basis.
The fruit for this 2008 Riesling comes from the Allan Scott 'Moorlands' block, which directly surrounds the winery and contains some of the oldest Riesling vines in Marlborough. Due to their maturity this vineyard consistently produces quality fruit year after year.
As in previous years, harvesting occurred in the cool of the early morning, to retain the bright natural fruit characteristics. After pressing and the normal settling and racking process the juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks, until a desired balance between fruit sweetness and acidity was achieved.
The bouquet of this wine has vibrant tones of orange blossom, limes, white stone-fruits and a hint of spice. These ripe and fruit forward characteristics continue through to the palate where the spice complexities combine with the structural components of acidity and natural sweet fruit. The result is a mouth watering finish that has a good lingering length.

Drinking perfectly well now and over the next 18-24 months.

Perfect wine match with a wide array of shellfish, sushi, sashimi and fresh salads, enjoy.
A bright refreshing wine, best served at 8C.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Disgorgement is the process of removing the yeast sediment resulting from the secondary fermentation in the bottle of Champagne and other quality sparkling wines.

So how does this process occur? - Once the bottle has been inverted (after riddling), the next process is called disgorgement, disgorging (or 'degorgement' in French), the removal of lees (dead yeast cells) now collected in the neck of the bottle. The neck containing the sediment is snap frozen by immersing it in a solution of freezing brine at around -20 to -30C (or liquid nitrogen).


Once this has occurred, the bottle is carefully moved to an upward angle of approximately 45 degrees, (at this point, the bottle will be closed with a bottle cap in most cases, some producers may still use a cork and clip closure) - carefully opened and the ice plug of frozen wine (containing the deposit) is ejected by the carbon dioxide gas pressure in the bottle, leaving behind clear Champagne.
As the wine is now very cold, there is minimum gas pressure lost from solution during this process. The bottle is then topped up with the same wine and normally sweetened with liqueur d'expedition to give it the desired balance and finished style. Even wines designated as "Brut" are sweetened and contain 5-12 grams/litre of residual sugar.
The bottle then has the cork inserted and the wire (muselet) is applied. The sparkling wine then can rest for a period of time, and then dressed for the market and eventual enjoyment.

Until this process was invented Champagne was cloudy, a style still seen occasionally today under the label 'methode ancestrale'. The removal process was a skilled manual process; modern disgorgement is automated but still care and attention is required to ensure a clear, quality product.