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, May 26, 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the premier red wine grape variety in the world - it is nicknamed "the king of red wine grapes". Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant grape in the Bordeaux region of France and has spread to every other major growing region from Italy, Canada, south America, south Africa, Australia and New Zealand to name a few. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape produces distinctive wines that are tannic and can have long aging potential. It is usually blended with other red varieties like; Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec to make wines with increased complexity and character.


Cabernet Sauvignon is a small, dark, thick skinned grape that gives average yields, and is a late-ripening variety. It needs slightly warmer growing conditions than many other red varieties in order to achieve physiological ripeness. Despite its prominence in the industry, the grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc during the 17th century in Bordeaux, south-western France.
Cabernet Sauvignon taste characteristics: dark cherry, cedar, tobacco, black currant, cool climate growth can give green pepper or olive notes on the nose. Lengthy aging in small oak barrels before bottling is common for Cabernet Sauvignon in order to achieve more complexity.
Its popularity is often attributed to its ease of cultivation - the grapes have thick skins, this contributes to the grapes notoriously high tannin levels, which soften and smooth with aging. The vines are also hardy and resistant to rot and frost - and to its consistent presentation of structure and flavours which express the typical character ('typicity') of the variety. Familiarity and ease of pronunciation have helped to sell Cabernet Sauvignon wines to consumers, even when from unfamiliar wine regions.
When you think of the finest red wines in the world, you are often thinking of wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Luzon 'Jumilla' Organic Red 2008

Grape Variety: 100% Monastrell

Growing Region: Castillo de Luzon, Jumilla, Spain

Chief Winemaker: Luis Sanchez Sanchez

Luzon Organic is red wine produced with grapes grown from organic agriculture under strict organic regulations established in European Union. It comes from one of Jumilla's oldest estates and is certified organic and environmentally friendly.
In this vineyard there is no use of chemical products, synthetic pesticides, or weed-killers in their daily work. Instead they use environmental friendly organic practices and products that do not harm people's health, or the natural environment. The harvest took place during September 2008 and the grapes were handpicked. Maceration lasted approx 2 weeks with the temperature being maintained below 28C and the wine was macerated in contact with the skins before being deposited in stainless steel tanks where the malolactic fermentation took place.
In the glass you will see a deep red purple with a violet rim. On the nose, the wine is clean, fragrant and fruit driven, with intense smells of red fruits, powerful and very inviting. On the palate the wine is full, smooth and warming, excellent fruit and well balanced acidity, mature tannins and a good length on the finish. Best served at approx 16-18C.

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

Perfect wine match with, tapas, red meat dishes, roast vegetables and ripe cheeses, enjoy.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hand Harvesting

When grapes to make wine are ready to be harvested, the winemaker can choose to pick by machine or to pick by hand for many different reasons.
Hand-picking is nearly always preferred for wine grapes, or for smaller vineyards that can't risk losing any fruit. For handpicking, all you need is a pair of secateurs and grape baskets (small bins) spread throughout the rows underneath the vines. Quite simply, you clip the bunches off each vine and place them in the baskets, making sure not to damage the vines. Then, you transport the grapes down the rows to larger containers to be transported back to the winery.

Despite the added costs with hand harvesting, many wineries prefer the use of human workers to hand-pick grapes. The main advantage is the knowledge, skill and discernment of the worker to pick only healthy bunches throughout the vines and the gentler handling of the grapes.
The production of some dessert wine like Sauternes and Trockenbeerenauslese require that individual berries are picked from the botrytized bunches which can only be done by hand, as they will split during machine harvesting; this also includes late harvest and ice wines.
Hand Harvesting allows individual bunch selection based on ripeness - therefore fruit selection can be more exact, often selection is by single berry rather than a bunch and can be done over many days, even weeks.
Hand picking can be employed on any terrain although unfavourable terrain (steep slopes, terraced hillsides) dramatically slow the progress and therefore cost of doing this. Hand picking is also needed when vines are grown in a Pergola style - like those found in areas of northern Italy. A good picker can harvest up to 2 tonnes a day. Hand picking is becoming quite common in New Zealand for premium wines where a great deal of time and energy has been invested in getting small, high quality fruit from carefully selected sites and rows. Plus some regions in Europe have regulations that do not allow mechanical harvesting (e.g. Champagne).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Brookfields 'Hillside' Syrah 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Syrah

Growing Region: Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Owner / Chief Winemaker: Peter Robertson

5 Stars - Classic Syrah, Michael Coopers, Buyers Guide 2010.

This outstanding Syrah grown in a very special site found and planted by Peter; reminds me how young, but how quickly the New Zealand wine industry has matured and developed in such a short time. All captured in a single bottle, or in this case a glass of wine shared with friends and a nicely brazed piece of venison. Or maybe I am showing my age, as I have watched this wine develop from its first vintage, then to beating the Australians in their own competition in 2004, right up to this vintage.
The Hillside vineyard is located on a north-facing slope of a superb hillside site between Bridge Pa and Maraekakaho in Hawke's Bay. All of the fruit for this wine was hand harvested on the 17th April 2007. The incredible intensely flavoured fruit was de-stemmed, crushed and fermented at warm temperatures for rich colour and tannin extraction. Following pressing, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation and was then racked into new oak barriques. After maturing in oak for 18 months it was bottled, then rested for a short while before release.
In the glass you will be greeted by a dark red - almost black colour. The bouquet of this 2007 Hillside Syrah is very confident but friendly, with complex aromas intertwined with freshly cracked black pepper and spice. The wine is packed with dark plum characters, sweet berries, toast, and balanced oak form a multi layered palate that lingers into next week.

Decanter for 45+ minutes; or will age gracefully for 10-12 years.

Perfect wine match with game meats, wine jus and truffle brie cheese, enjoy.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Arneis is an ancient Italian white wine grape variety native to Italy's Piedmont region. It is most commonly found in the hills of Roero, northwest of Alba, where it is part of the white (DOC) wines of Roero and Langhe. Arneis (means; 'little rascal') is so called because it is regarded as a somewhat difficult variety to grow. It is a crisp and floral varietal, producing white peach and pear scented wines and has been grown for centuries in the region. Arneis wines tend to be dry and full body with notes of pears, apricots and with a hint of almonds.

For centuries the Arneis was used to soften the aggressive tannins and harshness of the Nebbiolo grape in the wines of the Barolo region, much as the French use Viognier in the Northern Rhone. In a region largely devoid of serious white wine production, Arneis was fortunately saved from complete varietal extinction by an increasing popularity of dry white wines in the 1980s. As of 2006 there were nearly 600 hectares of Arneis in the Piedmont region. Outside of Italy, there are limited plantings of Arneis in California, Australia and most recently here in New Zealand.
The Arneis vine can be a difficult grape to cultivate, with naturally low acidity and tendency to get over ripe if harvested late. For this reason, Arneis seems to perform its best in cooler climates that are reminiscent of the grapes Piedmont home in the foothills of the Italian Alps. The vine's propensity for low crop yields and for the wine to oxidize easily, contributed to its steady decline. Better understanding of the variety has helped revive the variety as winemakers found that the chalky, sandy soils around Roero gave the grapes more acidity and structure while Arneis grapes planted in sandy clay soil developed an elegant and exotic perfume.
Wines fermented or aged in oak will be more full bodied while unoaked Arneis can have more aromatics and perfume. Arneis is best consumed within a year or two of the vintage, though some producers in Italy make a late harvest 'passito' Arneis.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fairhall Downs 'Marlborough' Pinot Gris 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Gris

Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Owner / Viticulturist: Stuart Smith

The Pinot Gris grape and in particular the clones that we have here in New Zealand is a versatile wine which is grown from Northland to Central Otago, with its popularity and interest from all wine enthusiasts having soured in recent years.
Styles of Pinot Gris here in New Zealand can and do vary widely, but it is delicious when served chilled as an aperitif and works well with a wide array of seafood and lightly spiced white meat and fish dishes. Pinot Gris is an aromatic style of wine which when well made can have intense aromas, rich flavours and a full mouth-filling quality.
This Fairhall Downs Pinot Gris is made in a drier style to many and all the fruit was sourced from a single vineyard site carefully maintained by Stuart.
The fruit was hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. In the glass the wine has a clear and bright appearance. On the nose you have bright Pear and citrus characters. Then the palate is a rich dry style with good texture and fresh natural acidity - giving the wine a clean finish. Serve at approx 8C.

Drinking perfectly well now; and will age gracefully over the next 5-7 years.

Perfect wine match with shellfish, Asian dishes, sashimi, ham, pork, and spicy chicken dishes, enjoy.
A bright style of Pinot Gris, don't miss out.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Astringency & Bitterness

Astringency in wine is the drying, rough and puckering sensation that is experienced after tasting most red wines. The term 'smooth' is used by wine-writers to describe the pleasurable feeling of a high quality astringent sensation. Feeling is the operative word here, as although astringency is an in-mouth experience, it is a touch sensation not a taste as one might expect.
Bitterness on the other hand is one of the primary basic tastes. A major source of bitterness is the tannin content of red wine. Some white grapes (Gewurztraminer, Muscat) can have a distinct bitter edge to their flavour.


So what causes astringency - red wines are rich in phenolics, there are hundreds of different types of phenolics, however, depending on their chemical structure, these substances play quite different roles in the way a wine looks, tastes and feels. One class of phenolics are called catechins are bitter. Another type called the polymeric flavan-3-ols is responsible for astringency.
Astringent wines have a taste similar to cold black coffee, cold green tea. A highly astringent wine will cause the mouth to pucker. The astringency is produced by the tannin in grape skins, and varies from very astringent to slightly astringent to lacking astringency. Reds are usually astringent; whites lack astringency.
Tannins contribute astringency (most significantly) and bitterness - sensations that are confused by tasters. Bitter perception is quite well understood, since it is one of the primary tastes sensed by a specific receptor found in taste buds on the tongue and soft palate. Astringency perception is much less understood: basically it is mediated by the sense of touch rather than by taste. Tannins taste astringent because they bind with salivary proline-rich proteins and precipitate them out. This leads to increased friction between mouth surfaces, and a sense of dryness or roughness. The term 'mouthfeel' has been coined to describe the sensation of wine in the mouth, and is an important property of a balanced wine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cecchi 'Bonizio' Sangiovese 2008

Grape Variety: 90% Sangiovese and 10% other red varieties

Growing Region: Maremma-Tuscany, Italy

Chief Winemaker: Andrea Cecchi

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the vineyards in Maremma on the coast of the Tuscany region, where Cecchi have planted vines and it was evident to see their deep knowledge and understanding of the Maremma terroir and the selection of the most suitable clones have lead to this Sangiovese based wine. This is a region whose characteristics guarantee a full and constant ripening of the Sangiovese grapes.
After harvesting these ripe grapes, traditional winemaking took place with controlled temperatures. Fermentation was in small and medium sized stainless steel tanks. The fermentation temperature hit 28C for approx 18 days, then after bottling the wine was allowed to rest in bottle for a minimum of 3 months before release.
In the glass the wine is a ruby red colour with purple reflections. The wine has a bright bouquet with features that recall the ripe dark cherry with hints of black plums. This attractive wine has the strong characteristic note of Sangiovese produced by the vineyards location near the coast.
As soon as you take your first sip the wine is full and immediate on the palate, it has a typical fruity note of Sangiovese di Maremma. A wine to enjoy young and has good potential for aging.
Best served at approx 16C.

Drinking perfectly well this winter; and will age well for another 2-3 years.

Perfect wine match with cured meats, salamis and meat based dishes and ripe cheeses, enjoy.
A wine to share with flavoured foods and good friends.