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, June 30, 2010

First Growths

For the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris, Emperor Napoleon III requested a classification system for France's best Bordeaux wines which were to be on display for visitors from around the world. Brokers from the wine industry ranked the wines according to a chateau's historical reputation and trading price, which at that time was directly related to quality in the market and divided these top wineries into 5 classifications. The result was the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
The wines were ranked in importance from first to fifth growths (crus). The white wines, then of much less importance than red wine, were limited to the sweet varieties of Sauternes and Barsac and were ranked only from first growth to second growth.  With several thousand different Chateaux producing their own wines in Bordeaux, to be classified was to carry a mark of high prestige.


The best of the best wines were assigned the highest rank of Premier Cru; only four wines, Chateau Latour, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Haut-Brion were deemed worthy. Of all the 61 great classified wines, all but one came from the Medoc region. The exception was Ch. Haut-Brion, produced in Graves.
The 1855 list remained unchanged for over a hundred years until Mouton Rothschild was promoted to Premier Cru status in 1973, after decades of lobbying by its owner, Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Of lesser importance, in 1988 Chateau Haut-Brion was changed in appellation from Graves to Pessac-Leognan to represent changes caused by the urbanization of areas surrounding Bordeaux.
Only twice since the 1855 classification has there been a change, first when in 1856 Chateau Cantemerle was added as a fifth growth (originally omitted over a complicated history) and in 1973, when Chateau Mouton Rothschild was elevated from a second growth to a first growth. A third, but less known 'change', is the removal of Chateau Dubignon, a third growth that was absorbed into the estate Chateau Malescot St. Exupery.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Taylors 'St Andrews' Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Growing Region: Clare Valley, Australia

Senior Winemaker: Adam Eggins

Blue Gold Medal - Sydney International Wine Competition 2010.

True reflections of their terroir, the St Andrews range of wines are premium wines, sourced from single vineyards on the Taylor family estate that exemplify the very best of handcrafted Clare Valley winemaking and continue the St Andrews tradition of fine Australian wines.
The 2005 vintage was considered amongst one of better ones in the previous decade, although it was still classified as a drought year.
The fruit for this wine was amongst the last vines to be picked on the Estate so a good, long ripening period was achieved with optimum tannin and flavour development.
After primary fermentation, the wine was pressed to 'Prestige' French oak barrels for secondary, malolactic fermentation - MLF. These barrels were hand-selected based on grain-grade rather than forest source. After racking (post MLF), the wine was returned to oak for maturation for a period of approx 12-14 months prior to bottling in December 2007.
In the glass the wine is a dark red with a developing brick hue to the edge. The wine has bold lifted varietal aromas of cassis, ripe black cherry and aniseed. These notes are matched with an abundance of chocolate, cedar and cinnamon from the French oak maturation. It is a generous wine which is beautifully ripened yet retains poise and the elegance of great Cabernet.
Decant for 20-30mins and serve at 18C.

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

Perfect wine match with prime fillet steaks, game dishes with a wine jus, and ripe cheeses enjoy.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is one of the twenty most widely planted grape varieties worldwide. Plantings are found throughout Europe, in the New World, and even China. In many regions, it is planted as a component of a Bordeaux-style blend, playing a secondary role to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In parts of northeast Italy and the right bank region of Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc both plays a more prominent role in blends and is vinted as a varietal.
Cabernet Franc with its lower tannin levels than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright lighter red wine and contributing finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, blueberry, raspberry, and cassis, sometimes even violets.

Cabernet Franc is believed to have been established in the Libournais region of southwest France sometime in the 17th century. In 1997 DNA evidence showed that Cabernet Franc crossed with Sauvignon Blanc to produce Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Franc is very similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but buds and ripens at least a week earlier. This trait allows the vine to thrive in slightly cooler climates than Cabernet Sauvignon. In Bordeaux, plantings of Cabernet Franc are treated as an 'insurance policy' against inclement weather close to harvest that may damage plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Its early budding does pose the viticultural hazard of coulure early in the growing season. The vine is vigorous and upright, the berries are quite small and blue-black in colour, with fairly thin skins. The Cabernet Franc grapevine is more prone to mutation than Cabernet Sauvignon, less so than Pinot Noir.
Cabernet Franc can adapt to a wide variety of soil types but seems to thrive in sandy, chalk soils, producing heavier, more full-bodied wines. The grape is highly yield sensitive, with over-cropping producing wines with more green, vegetal notes. Today, more producers have been selling Cabernet Franc as a single varietal with significant success.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quinta de la Rosa Vintage Port 2005

Grape Variety: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca & Tinta Roriz

Growing Region: Douro Valley, Portugal

Chief Winemaker: Jorge Moreira

Gold Medal - NZ International Wine Show - 2008.

Quinta de La Rosa is a small estate in the heart of the Port wine-growing region in Alto Douro, near Pinhao, owned and operated by the Bergqvist family: Tim, his wife Patricia, son Philip and his two daughters, Sophia and Olivia, with the aid of the talented winemaker Jorge Moreira since 2002.
Made from traditional port varieties; Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz, from the older dry stone terraced vineyards at La Rosa. A high proportion of the blend came from Vale do Inferno, found at the back of the property. This site was planted by Sophia's great grandfather before the First World War and boasts some of the highest dry stone walls in the Douro. The more complex notes of this 2005 vintage port were kept in wooden oak - 25 pipe tonels before being blended and then bottled in April 2007.
Great concentration of aromas which are both profound and slightly mysterious. The 2005 is a port without any weak points. It has excellent texture, complexity and equilibrium. Tannins of the highest quality give a wonderful length to this impressive vintage port.
Serving temperature: winter 18C, summer 14C.

Drinking perfectly well this winter; and well age gracefully for another 15-20 years.

Perfect match with chocolate desserts, cheese selections and mixed nuts, enjoy.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grafting Vines

Because a tiny louse called 'phylloxera', immigrated to Europe from America in the 1850's and proceeded to feast on the roots of grapevines unheeded, and to this day no cure has been found to protect vinifera vines from phylloxera. Grafting vines onto rootstocks of native American species that are resistant to the bug allows these grapevines to survive.
Miraculously, each grape variety maintains its own unique character despite the fact that its roots are foreign. The practice of grafting the fruit-bearing part of the grape vine onto the rooting part of phylloxera-resistant species continues today everywhere in the world where phylloxera is present and fine wine is made.


Grafting is a process by which two grape vine plants are combined to create an improved single vine with new desired attributes. Grape vines can also be grafted to either convert a vineyard to a grape variety that is anticipated to receive high premiums, or to remove a grape variety for which there is little to no market demand.
The two most common grafts for grape vines are combining a local bareroot with a new variety of grape vine, and combining a new vine with an old vine's established trunk. For the greatest success grafting occurs during the dormant winter season - grafting techniques include; Omega (image 2), Whip, Chip bud, T-bud, Cleft, Notch and Bark grafting. Grafting in the vineyard can take several months to complete, with the work beginning in June / July in the southern hemisphere and January / February in northern hemisphere wine regions.
The grafting of vines is also carried out because the roots of one type of grape vine might be better suited for a particular type of soil, or they might be more disease resistant than another. Or the grapes of a different variety might be favoured for making a preferred style of wine, so the grape vine is grafted onto suitable roots for a particular location or terroir.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Domaine Jessiaume Volnay Brouillards 1er Cru 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Les Brouillards, Volnay, Burgundy

Winemakers: Marc & Pascal Jessiaume

90 pts - Wine Enthusiast 2010. *Limited Availability

I have had the pleasure of visiting the Jessiaume winery and cellars on several occasions over the years. Domaine Jessiaume sits at the entrance to the small town of Santenay in the Cote de Beaune. Built in 1850 - over the years has built a formidable reputation as a small negociants of unparalleled quality. In their cellars they have over 100,000 bottles gracefully maturing, with the oldest vintage being 1908.
As with all of the wines crafted at Jessiaume this wine has elegance and finesse, the palate is supple with well integrated tannins. This wine has had 12 months in French oak barrels (30% new wood), followed by 5 months finishing in stainless-steel tanks prior to bottling.
In the glass you have a bright ruby red colour. The aromas of violet, cherry and gooseberry spell delicate complexity on the nose and in the mouth. The refinement of its bouquet earns it the designation of the Cote de Beaune's most "feminine" wine. The wine is medium weight and culminates in a delicious and balanced structured finish that lingers well. Decant for 30 minutes and serve at 15-16C.

Drinking well this winter; and well repay another 7-9 years.

Perfect wine match with white meats, poultry, feathered game, fine cheeses, enjoy.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Prosecco is an Italian dry, citrus sparkling wine, Italy's answer to a refreshing sparkling wine, made from a white grape of the same name. The grape is grown mainly in the northern region of Veneto in the foothills of the Alps, traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, north of the city Treviso. It is believed that Prosecco was already produced in Roman times and is one of the oldest wine grapes in Italy ranking approx 14th in importance among the country's 2000+ grape varieties. The name of Prosecco is derived from the northern Italian village of Prosecco (Trieste), where the grape is believed to have originated.


Up until the 1960s, Prosecco was generally sweet and barely distinguishable from the Asti Spumante wine produced in Piedmont. Since then, production techniques have improved, leading to the high-quality dry wines produced today.
Since 2009 Prosecco is protected as a DOCG, as Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Prosecco di Conegliano and Prosecco di Valdobbiadene.
Sometimes combined with a small amount of Pinot Grigio grapes, Prosecco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method. The Charmat method allows the wine to go through the second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles. The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Prosecco because it preserves the freshness and the flavour of the grapes. Most Prosecco yields lower alcohol levels and is best consumed within 2-3 years of its vintage, but the highest-quality Prosecco can be aged for up to 7 years.
Approximately 150 million bottles of Prosecco are produced annually, with approx 60% of all Prosecco being made in the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene area.
Italians consider Prosecco an ideal apperitivo or ombrette (pick-me-up). Prosecco is also delicious when combined with fresh peach juice to make Venice's most famous cocktail, the Bellini and Poinsettia. It is crisp and clean and pairs nicely with seafood - especially calamari and crabmeat, enjoy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ti Point 'Two' Merlot / Cabernet-Franc 2009

Grape Variety: 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet-Franc

Growing Region: Matakana, New Zealand

Winemaker: Tracey Haslam

Tracey with the help of her mother and grandmother planted only the finest Bordeaux red clones at their Ti Point Vineyards on the Matakana coast north of Auckland. Apart from being a picture postcard location, the site is producing exciting fruit characters. The vineyards are positioned on a north-facing slope in the rain shadow of the Whangiripo range, blessed with a constant, gentle sea breeze. A perfect place to ripen Merlot and Cabernet-Franc and the summer of 2009 was just that for this approachable wine.
Small batches of hand-picked grapes destemmed but not crushed were hand-plunged to ensure good extraction during fermentation, with 10 days post ferment maceration and then they were transferred to a traditional basket press. Fermented in small lots and then aged in two and three year old French oak barrels for 8 months to create a style of wine that is rich and balanced.
Deep violet red fills the glass, with a blend of spice and violet with earthy undertones and floral notes on the nose. The palate is full and sweet plum and cherry with leather and spice (cloves, cinnamon) and a very seductive mouth feel. A wine with good fruit weight and depth, well balanced with a smooth structure and soft integrated tannins and immense appeal, the finish is alluring with layers of character, enjoy at 17-18C.

Drinking well this season; and will age for 4-5 years.

Perfect wine match with roasted meats, pizza, pasta and tapas, enjoy.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Late Harvest Wine

Late harvest is a term applied to wines made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual. Late harvest is usually an indication of a sweet wine, sometimes called a 'dessert wine', such as late harvest Riesling. Late harvest grapes are often more similar to raisins, but have been naturally dehydrated while still hanging on the vine.
As a result of the dehydration of water within each berry, the grapes have higher levels of natural sugars, and the resulting wine is much sweeter and richer than other still wines. Riesling is a common and popular late harvest wine grape around the world, other grapes used include: Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc to name a few.

Many of the classic examples of late harvested sweet wines come from Europe. For example, the Vendange Tardive (literally 'late harvest') wines from Alsace in France tend to be off-dry to moderately sweet. Later harvested wines from Germany and Austria, of the Spatlese and Auslese designation for example, also tend to be off-dry to moderately sweet.
In Germany, wines are classified according to the ripeness of the grape at the time of harvest. Within the Qualitatswein mit Pradikat classification, there are four levels of late harvest wines, roughly ranging from dry to very sweet: Spatlese ('late harvest'), Auslese ('selected harvest'), Beerenauslese ('selected berries harvest') and Trockenbeerenauslese ('selected dried-berries harvest') with the last two levels being botrytized.
The resulting high sugar content wine tends to be thick, sweet, and very rich; some people find late harvest wine almost cloying because of the sweetness, while others can't get enough.
Be careful when trying to pair late harvest wines with sweet desserts - as the two don't always match each other's intensity - but when matched well with cheeses, light and cold desserts and fresh fruits they are a perfect end to a meal - plus many are at their best when enjoyed on their own.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chapel Hill 'Parsons Nose' Shiraz 2008

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: McLaren Vale, South Australia

Chief Winemaker: Michael Fragos

90 pts - Gary Walsh, Wine Front, 2009.

The vineyard where this Shiraz comes from produces fruit with unique characters and flavours. This McLaren Vale Shiraz typically has a deep garnet red colour with an enormously rich mouth filling palate that boasts style, structure and length.
After harvesting, which was prior to the heat wave that terrorized the end of the 2008 vintage, and fermentation, the wine was then given time in oak, approx 80% French oak and 20% American oak.
In the glass you will be greeted by a deep garnet red colour. The 2008 Parsons Nose Shiraz has decadent aromas of blueberries, violets and chocolate dusted with a cinnamon spice. The luscious palate brimming with Satsuma plum flavours seamlessly integrates with the gently textured oak. The finish is long and savoury with persistent velvety tannins.
Plenty of satisfaction to be had in this wine, Michael and his winemaking team has made an honest wine that has real character. Decant for approx 30-45 mins.

Drinking well this winter; and will age nicely over the next 4-5 years.

Perfect wine match with prime meat cuts, wine jus, roasted vegetables and ripe cheeses, enjoy.