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, September 28, 2010

Durif - (The Grape)

The Durif grape is named after Dr. Francois Durif, a botanist at the University of Montpellier, France in the late 1800's. He created this new variety by crossing the Syrah grape with the Peloursin variety in the 1870's. His new variety was resistant to a disease called 'Powdery Mildew'. However, the new variety was likely to suffer from rot due to the very tight bunches Durif formed, that meant it did not grow well in its native climate of the Rhone Valley.
Durif is primarily grown in California, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Israel and today only a small amount is planted in France. On some occasions, Peloursin and Syrah vines may be called Petite Sirah, usually because the varieties are extremely difficult to distinguish in old age.
The grape's high resistance to powdery mildew encouraged its cultivation in the early 20th century in areas like Isere and Ardeche, although the relative low quality of the resulting wine caused the grape to fall out of favour with local wineries.


Durif arrived in Australia by way of enigmatic viticulturist Francois de Castella (son of a Swiss-born vigneron), while looking for new vines after phylloxera ravaged most of Australia. He returned in 1908 with Durif, grafted to phylloxera-resistant vines. These were propagated at the Rutherglen Viticultural Research Station and then spread around the region when replanting took place as affected vines were removed.
Durif is known to produce: dark, inky coloured wines with a bright acidity, with firm texture and mouth feel; the bouquet has herbal, black pepper and spice, and typically offers flavours of dark berries and fruits. Compared to Syrah, the wine is noticeably darker and purple in colour, and typically rounder and fuller in the mouth. The wines are very tannic, with aging ability that can exceed 20 years. Durif can sometimes be rather 'short', that is, the flavour does not linger in the mouth, hence the benefit of blending with another grape which may lack mid-palate depth, but add length and elegance.

Kilikanoon 'Killerman's Run' Shiraz 2008

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: Clare Valley, Australia

Owner / Chief Winemaker: Kevin Mitchell

90 pts, James Halliday - Australian Wine Companion 2009.

Kevin has packed a whole lot of punch, power and spice into this wine; this is a red that wine fanatics must try this summer. It seems that every vintage - the vineyards that Kevin sources his fruit from - show rich and ripe fruit flavours and palate persistence.
The 'Killerman's Run' Shiraz offers outstanding value to those seeking a wine that will accompany a range of meats, BBQ's, Tapas' and fun relaxed times this summer. Small batches of Shiraz were selected from a range of premium Clare Valley vineyards then vinified by traditional methods and matured for up to two years in small French and American oak barrels before careful blending and bottling unfiltered, as is the way with many good wines these days.
In the glass you have an intense deep red colour with a bright crimson hue around the edge. The nose is ripe, bold and forward Shiraz flavours confidently shine, plus dark plums and mocha are well balanced by both French and American oak. In the mouth the wine has a sweet mid palate, with subtle tannins that have created a wine with both power and elegance. This wine was made to showcase the unique flavours of Shiraz, the palate tends to be fruit driven but balanced and lengthened by notes of mature oak. This wine has all the weight you will need to match with any full flavoured dish. Decant for about 45mins and serve at 18C.

Drinking perfectly well this coming summer; and will age for another 4-5 years.

Perfect wine match with prime steak fillets, plus game meats and BBQ flavours - enjoy.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nga Waka 'Martinborough' Pinot Noir 2008

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Parkinson Block & Old Cemetery Block vineyards, Martinborough, New Zealand

Owner / Chief Winemaker: Roger Parkinson

Consistently one of NZ's Best Pinot Noirs.

Martinborough has been slightly forgotten by New Zealand Pinot Noir enthusiasts (un-intentionally I'm sure) - with every wine publication talking about all the new areas being planted. But where it all began in NZ - they have been quietly producing some of the world's best examples of Pinot Noir. So after recently tasting this wine, I thought it best to share.
As the fruit came in, it was de-stemmed only. Then it underwent a period of cold maceration prior to fermentation, and with a total maceration time of between 18-21 days. Malolactic fermentation occurred in barrel, a selection of tight-grained French oak barriques (25% new) was used, with approx 18 months in barrel, and the wine as per normal was bottled unfined and unfiltered, which adds to the mouth feel and ageing potential.
The wine has a deep red / purple colour. The bouquet is rich, succulent and powerful; this Martinborough Pinot Noir is showing dark berries and fresh spice flavours, which carry through onto the palate. A dry, full bodied wine, with well integrated silky tannins and subtle, refined oak from good barrel selection and maturation. Serve at 16-18C.

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

Perfect wine match with a wide range of game dishes, particularly lamb, rabbit and duck, enjoy.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Water Stress in Grape Vines

Water stress is a physiological state that grapevines experience when there is insufficient water supply. Some of the physiological responses of grapevines include effected cell development, closing of leaf stomata, reduced photosynthesis and, in the worst case, cell dehydration and death of the vine.

Most of these responses are dynamic (as the level of water stress increases so does the response). For example, leaf stomata (which influence photosynthesis and hence potential sugars) do not completely close at the first signs of water stress, but slowly close as water stress increases. The physiological reaction of a vine to water stress will affect the growth and development of the shoots, leaves and fruit depending on the timing and level of water stress during the growing season.
Water stress may also have less obvious or indirect effects on fruit yield and quality. For example, reducing berry size increases the skin to juice ratio, which may increase the concentration of anthocyanins and phenolics of red grapes.


While climate and humidity play important roles, a typical grape vine needs approx 650-900mm of water a year, occurring during the spring and summer months of the growing season, to avoid stress. The presence of water is essential for the survival of all plants. In a grapevine, water acts as a universal solvent for nutrients and minerals needed to carry out important physiological functions-which the vine receives by absorbing the nutrient-containing water from the soil.
In the absence of water in the soil, the root system of the vine may have difficulties absorbing these nutrients. During the process of photosynthesis, water molecules combine with carbon derived from carbon dioxide to form glucose which is the primary energy source of the vine as well as oxygen being a by-product.
While there is disagreement over exactly how much water stress is beneficial in developing grapes for quality wine production, most viticulturists agree that some water stress can be beneficial.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mont Redon Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge 2007

Grape Variety: 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre &
5% (Counoise / Muscardin / Vaccarèse)

Growing Region: Cote du Rhone, France

Senior Winemaker: Christian Voeux

92 points - Stephen Tanzer, February 2010

In July of this year I stopped in to check out the well kept vineyards of Chateau Mont Redon - which are the largest family owned in the appellation, with almost 100 hectares under vine. The majority of Mont Redon's vineyards are located on the high plateau which is covered in the large round stones that Chateauneuf is renowned for.
All grapes are hand-picked, which enables them to select only the best grapes. After complete de-stemming, the grapes are macerated and punched down for two to three weeks to ensure maximum extraction of tannins and colour. Once the malolactic fermentation is completed, half of the volume is placed in Burgundian barrels, the other half is kept in steel vats. Following careful selection of the best wines a single blend is made, which will be bottled at the Estate about eighteen months after harvest. Once the wine is in the bottle, they remain for at least four to six months in their cellars.
In the glass you are greeted by a bright ruby red colour. Exotic aroma of raspberry preserves, red cherries and Asian spices. On the palate the wine is spicy, mineral driven, with red and dark berry flavours impressively supple and precise, with silky tannins giving support. A very fresh wine which finishes with excellent clarity and a spicy persistence. Serve at 15-17C.

Drinking perfectly well this coming season; and will age well for another 5-7 years.

Perfect wine match with pork, bbq chicken, lamb salads and tapas, enjoy.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010


A Foudre is a generic French term for a large wooden vat between 20-120 hectolitres in size (hectolitre = 100 litres).
These large oak barrels vary enormously in size but are significantly larger than the normal oak barrels. They are used in Bordeaux, widely used in the Rhone Valley, Piedmont, a few in Burgundy and more each year in other wine regions.
The use of a large format barrel is very different than other barrels, and must be respected as so. The surface area is totally different and the thickness of the staves allows less oxidative process than a normal wine barrel. These large barrels tend to preserve the vineyard character by minimizing both oak extraction and oxidation.

Foudres had fallen out of favour too the traditional wooden barrels because of their price and maintenance. A few craftsmen are responsible for the come-back of Foudres, due to several modern innovations to these ancient containers by adding large stainless-steel doors and lids that allowed these vats to be used not only for the fermentation but also for the elevage.
The fitting of steel parts on a wooden vat is difficult because if not properly done it can leak, remember that wood keeps breathing and moving, while steel is inert, and combining the two materials is not easy. The reason why Foudres are not common in Burgundy is because Pinot-Noir is better off in small, normal sized casks because it needs more aeration.
The making of large-capacity vats implies the use of much thicker oak staves, which in turn ask for a much longer toasting of the inside of each cask. A regular sized barrel needs 30-45 minutes, where a large wooden vat needs an entire day. They keep watering the outside during the entire operation (and the inside occasionally) to prevent the wood from cracking and at the end of the day the huge vat gets its final bending and shape. Winemakers can even ask for different types of bending, angle and proportions, which mean differently shaped staves and more or less difficulty in the assembly.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Taylors 'St Andrews' Shiraz 2004

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: Clare Valley, Australia

Senior Winemaker: Adam Eggins

Gold Medal - Syrah du Monde - 2009 & 2010

2004 was one of the great red vintages in the Clare Valley. The seasonal influences were more dramatic than usual. The valley experienced less than half the normal rainfall, November was warmer than average, December the hottest for some time and then January was one of the coolest on record. At the beginning of February a heat-wave descended upon the region and for sixteen days the average max temperature was 37.9C. Vintage commenced early, although ripening slowed when the temperatures returned to more normal levels and it ended up being a long, drawn-out vintage.
After a very careful and precise fermentation process, and then after racking (post MLF), the wine was returned to oak for maturation for a period of 14 months, and was not bottled until March 2007.
In the glass the wine is developing brick red with a deep crimson heart; its purple hues will continue to fade into soft red brick red as it ages. The bouquet has complex aromas of plum fruit, violets and spice with creamy vanilla from maturation in American oak. On the palate this is an elegant, full-bodied wine with rich texture. Fruit flavours of dark berries are complimented by subtle spice and hints of cedar which brings pleasing warmth to the palate. The finish is long and persistent.
Decant for 30-40mins - serve at 18C.

Drinking perfectly well this season; and over the next 3-4 years.

Perfect wine match with game meats, rich sauces and serve in a large glass, enjoy.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Pinotage is a red wine grape that is South Africa's signature variety. A local cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, created by Professor Abraham Izak Perold in 1925, this variety combines the noble characteristics of Pinot Noir with the reliability of Cinsaut. The grape is a viticultural cross of two varieties of Vitis vinifera, not a hybrid.
It typically produces deep red wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavours, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit, it can produce complex wines with age - but are also drinkable when young.
Abraham Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University, attempting to combine the best qualities of the robust Cinsaut with Pinot Noir, a grape that makes great wine but can be difficult to grow. The first wine was made in 1941 at Elsenburg, with the first commercial plantings at Myrtle Grove near Sir Lowry's Pass.

The first recognition came when a Bellevue wine made from Pinotage became the champion wine at the Cape Wine Show of 1959; this wine was also the first to mention Pinotage on its label in 1961. This early success, and its easy viticulture, started a wave of planting during the 1960s.
The vines are vigorous like their parent Cinsaut and easy to grow, ripening early with high sugar levels. The grape is naturally high in tannins which can be tamed with limited maceration time but reducing the skin contact can also reduce the sort after mulberry, blackberry characters. Pinotage may be made in several different styles: young, light, and fruit driven, like Beaujolais, deep and rich like a Cotes du Rhone, or elegant and restrained like light Bordeaux. There are also 'rose' versions and several fortified into Port-style wines, plus Pinotage can also be a component in sparkling wines.
Pinotage is grown here in New Zealand - for many years, where the relatively thick, rot-resistant skin is an added benefit in the humid north island. Israel is making Pinotage and in Canada, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Australia and the United States.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Grower's Mark Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Vineyard Owner & Viticulturist: Donna Anderson

A bright, approachable Pinot Noir

Sourced from selected sites in Marlborough, when the fruit was deemed ripe by consultant viticulturist, Jeremy Hyland, the grapes were machine harvested at night - to retain as much bright fruit notes and well balanced acidity. The individual Pinot Noir clones which included: 115, 667, 777, 113 and 5 were all fermented separately. The grapes went through a 'cold soak' for colour extraction for five days, and then gradually warmed-up to ferment through to dryness. Once fermented dry the wine was pressed off and underwent malolactic fermentation. After malolactic fermentation ended, the best clones were identified and blended together to make this exciting wine.
In the glass you are greeted by a deep crimson colour. The nose is elegant, with floral notes and hints of violets and dark cherries, through to Doris plum jam characters and subtle toasty oak. The palate is quintessential Marlborough Pinot Noir. Bursting with bright fruit, dark plums, blackcurrant and raspberry jam flavours fill the palate. The wine finishes with a sweet note, with nicely balanced tannins and oak. A fruit driven style of Pinot Noir suited to a wide range of light cuisine.
Decant for 15-20mins and serve at approx 14-16C.

Drinking perfectly well this coming spring/summer; and over the next 2 years.

Perfect wine match with pork, turkey, light pasta dishes, pate and cheese board, enjoy.