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, December 28, 2010

Grüner Veltliner

Austria is home to many interesting wines made from varieties unique to the region. Grüner Veltliner (pronunciation a cross between GROO-ner and GREE-ner, and Veltliner is as it appears, VEHLT-ly-ner). Often called Gruner, Gru-Ve or simply GV, is Austria's most planted grape, accounting for over one-third of the vineyard plantings. It is also grown in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and wine regions outside of Europe are experimenting with small plantings.
Some sources say that Grüner Veltliner dates back to Roman times, but the name only appeared in the mid-19th century. Before that time it was known as Gruner Muskateller, and was not an exceptional wine until skilful viticulture post-World War II learned how to get the most from the grape.


Recent DNA analysis, the Traminer grape is one of its parents. Grüner means green in German. The wine is also called Green Veltliner, acknowledging the deep green-coloured grapes that ripen in mid-late October. The other parent was later found to be an originally unnamed variety of which only a single, abandoned, very old and weakened vine was found in St. Georgen outside Eisenstadt in Austria, it is therefore referred to as St. Georgener-Rebe.
Grüner's most impressive talent is to translate the soil in which the grapes are grown through the minerality in the wine. It gives wines that are typically dry and medium to full-bodied. While it can be aged if the production process is adjusted, generally it is intended to be drunk young.
In Austria, one can find Grüner sparkling - sekt, Austria's national bubbly. Young Grüner - 'Heurige', or new wine, is Austria's answer to Beaujolais Nouveau, on a slightly earlier release date November 11, St. Martin's Day. Austria's wine standards are so exacting, high quality Heurige is not hard to find.
Grüner is a great food wine that can be enjoyed with poultry and pork as well as seafood and other dishes traditionally enjoyed with white wine. Grüner Veltliner can also make fantastic late harvest styles, or Beerenauslese.

Brunton 'Organic' Gisborne Chardonnay 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay (certified organic)

Growing Region: Riverpoint, Gisborne, New Zealand

Owners: Kirsten & Richard Searle

When one talks of New Zealand Chardonnay, on many occasions one either thinks about or refers to Gisborne when talking of all that is good about the Chardonnay variety, and the unique characteristics you can only achieve from this sun kissed region.
This Chardonnay was grown on the original banks of the Waipaoa River. The vineyard is situated only 5 kilometres inland from the Pacific Ocean and enjoys a cooling breeze in the late morning and early afternoon during the long hot Gisborne summers. During the growing season this proved beneficial in assisting with the preservation of bright fruit flavours and natural acidity of the ripening grapes.
As with many good things in life, this wine is made in an uncomplicated style with 85% of the juice being fermented in stainless steel and the remaining 15% barrel fermented. On the nose there are aromas of Granny Smith apples, white peach and pear. On the palate this Chardonnay has freshness, subtle minerality and a seam of citrus zest running though the bright palate, giving the wine a lively finish. Serve at 8-10C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer season; and well into 2011.

Perfect wine match with shellfish, vegetarian dishes, young cheeses and salads, enjoy.

A crisp and refreshing Gisborne Chardonnay.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Cuvée is a French wine term derived from 'cuve', meaning vat or tank, though the term cuvée is used with several different meanings. On a wine label - it is used to denote a wine of a specific blend or batch. Since the usage of the term cuvee for this purpose is unregulated, and most wines will have been stored in a tank at some stage in their production.
It should be noted that the presence of the word cuvée on a label of an unknown producer is no absolute guarantee of its superior quality. However, in the range of wines from a renowned producer who markets both regular blends and blends called 'cuvee', the cuvee-labeled wines will usually be special blends or selected barrels of higher quality, at least in comparison to that producer's regular wine(s). Particularly terms like 'cuvee speciale', or 'tete de cuvee' (the latter especially in Sauternes AOC) should indicate a wine of higher quality.


Some wine producers differentiate higher-quality over ordinary cuvées as: 'reserve wines', while a cuvee lower in quality than the parent/main wine is referred to as a 'second wine'. A cuvee wine may also be numbered, indicating that the winemaker assigned a unique number to that blend.
In some regions, the term cuvee is used to specifically indicate a blend, i.e. a wine produced from a mixture of several grape varieties, rather than a single varietal wine. This is especially true in wine regions outside of France.
In Champagne and sometimes in other regions producing sparkling wines by; 'Methode Traditionnelle', the cuvée also refers to the best grape juice from the gentle pressing of the grapes (called the first pressing). In Champagne, the cuvee is the first 2,050 litres of grape juice from 4,000 kg of grapes ('premier taille' - first tail), while the following 500 litres are known as the 'deuxieme taille' (second tail), and the juice due to the extra skin contact will make wines with a more coarse character. Many Champagne producers pride themselves on only using the cuvée in their sparkling wine.

Akarua 'Central Otago' Pinot Gris 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Gris

Growing Region: Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand

Winemaker: Matt Connell

Silver Medal - Air NZ Wine Awards 2010.

Yes - central Otago produces more than just Pinot Noir. Among the other varieties, it also makes Pinot Gris - and does so very well, in a style that the world has another good reason to enjoy wines from this part of the world. Situated on the lower terrace of the vineyard and one of the cooler blocks. Planted on young alluvial, schist based sandy/silt and very sandy free draining loams, with the vine age ranging from 4 - 12 years.
This 2009 wine is well structured with richness and poise that now typifies the Akarua Pinot Gris style. Fermented in stainless steel tank and 15% of the juice in old neutral oak barriques. After fermentation the wine had lees contact and was stirred once a week for 6 months.
In the glass - the wine is bright and clear with a pale golden hue. The nose has lifted aromas of orange blossom and pear. In the mouth a lush layered palate with white peach and citrus flavours. The wine finishes with a zesty punch of fresh ginger and orange peel tang. Serve at 8-10C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and over the next 18 months.

Perfect wine match with steamed fish, Asian & Malaysian infused cuisine and vegetarian dishes, enjoy.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Vouvray is a wine region of the Loire Valley, France - located in the Touraine district just east of the city of Tours in the commune of Vouvray. The (AOC) is dedicated almost exclusively to Chenin Blanc though the minor grape Arbois is permitted but rarely used.
Vouvray is the largest white wine appellation of the Anjou-Saumur-Touraine region and it produces splendid wines from dry to the richest dessert wines, and excellent sparkling wines. Vouvray is made exclusively from Chenin Blanc, which has been grown in the region since the 4th century. The Vouvray AOC was designated on the 8th December 1936.


The flint-clay and limestone-clay soils lie on top of tuffeau, the limestone used to build the many chateaux of the surrounding countryside. The cool climate insures good acidity, which is balanced by the distinctly fruity character of Chenin Blanc, and the mineral qualities imparted by the soil. On average, 60% of each vintage is made into still wine and 40% sparkling. Sweet Vouvray is not usually made from grapes that have been allowed to remain on the vine until overripe and shriveled, so the percentage of dry to sweet wine depends on each year's conditions.
In a cool year, only dryer wines are made but in years where warm weather continues into winter, harvest for sweet wines is delayed until November (the latest harvest in France) and there may be several pickings in order to harvest the grapes at their optimum ripeness. With the naturally high acidity of Chenin Blanc, Vouvray from ideal vintages has immense aging potential with some examples drinking well at 100 years of age.
The wine develops richness and depth over time but rarely lose its fresh and fruity character. Vouvray comes in five styles: dry (sec), off-dry (tendre), semi-sweet (demi-sec), sweet (moelleux), and sparkling (petillant). Food pairings: fresh salads, goat cheese (simpler sec & tendre); roast pork, turkey (better sec & tendre); Thai, lightly spicy Asian (demi-sec); foie gras (moelleux).

Domaine Laroche Chablis 2008

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay

Growing Region: Chablis, France

Chief Winemaker: Denis de la Bourdonnaye

A classic style of Chablis.

The 2008 vintage was marked by an early budburst followed by a cool growing season, but regular sun during the key stages in the development of flavours. These fresh climatic conditions have allowed a slow and regular maturation with an excellent aromatic combination.
The harvested fruit was whole bunch pressed in a pneumatic press, then settled for 12 hours at 12 - 15C. Then carefully selected yeast was used and fermentation took some 15 days at 16C in stainless steel tanks, with 100% malolactic fermentation. The fermented wine was then left to mature for 4 to 6 months on lees in stainless steel tank. Before bottling the wine had minimal filtration to preserve the maximum natural character of the wine, then bottling under low pressure on a bottling line designed to protect quality.
In the glass is a brilliant yellow colour. The nose is crisp, fresh and with subtle underling mineral notes. The palate is refreshing, smooth and harmonious with vibrant notes of apple and pear and a bright and refreshing lingering finish. The wines are expressive, refined and fruity on the nose, with a beautiful acidity, combining strength roundness and harmony. The 2008 vintage is very enjoyable. Serve at 8-10C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer season; and well into 2011.

Perfect wine match with oysters, shell-fish, grilled herb fish, salads and fresh, young cheese, enjoy.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010


In 1980, Italian authorities established a superior classification of DOC wines. Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) began with five wines, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti all Tuscan, Barolo and Barbaresco, both produced in Piedmont. All had established international reputations and all but one 'Brunello' had been produced for centuries. Today, a total of 24 wines have been awarded the prestigious DOCG status.
A DOCG wine must meet standards that are stricter than those stipulated in DOC regulations. One of the principal differences is the lower yields imposed. The reductions in output have probably done more to improve the quality of the wines than any other condition in the production. The rules also require in-depth chemical analyses for all DOCG wines. Laboratories recognized by the government must carry out the examinations of the wines' physical composition.


Once the analyses have demonstrated that the chemical properties are in accordance with the standards specified in the DOCG regulations, committees of expert tasters sample each producer's wines. The committees can reject wines that fail to meet the specified sensory standards or instruct the producers to take steps to remedy deficiencies before approving or discarding the wine.
Upon receipt of a favourable report on the outcome of this analysis, the producers' consortia issues small pink numbered seals that fit over the top of the bottles of DOCG wines. Strict controls are applied to ensure that the number of seals issued corresponds to the amount of wine that can be produced in accordance with the regulations.
Today, within the DOC and DOCG zones well over 2,000 types of wine are produced. The extensive preparations the wine producers who apply for DOCG recognition must make are time consuming and require substantial investments. These strict controls placed on DOCG ensures that what finally is served to enthusiasts all over the world, is of only the finest that Italy has to offer.

Fairhall Downs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Owner / Viticulturist: Stuart Smith

In the heat of summer, as soon as you start to offer a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to a friend, they do one of two things *(well at my house anyway). (a): they lick their lips, their senses perk up and they look forward to all that is bright and alive that is Savvy from Marlborough. Or (b): they ask if the one that I have has had any time in oak and food friendly as they may want to drink it with their meal. This wine is of the latter, plus also ticks the first box - the Small & Smith family as with everything that they do, have left nothing to chance and have handpicked a portion of the fruit for this wine from one single vineyard.
As with nearly all of the wines that come from Fairhall Downs - this wine was picked over a range of times based on grape ripeness and flavours with some hand harvested and a carefully selected portion being fermented in French barriques - for a little bit more depth to the palate. In the glass the wine has a bright appearance. The nose is a refreshing blend of citrus and tropical notes, then the small portion of barrique wine gives a rich mid palate with great texture and length to the finish. Serve at 8C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and over the next 6-9 months.

Perfect wine match with any firm white fish, steamed vegetables and with a goat cheese salad, enjoy.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chakana Estate Malbec 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Malbec

Growing Region: Agrelo (Lujan de Cuyo), Mendoza, Argentina

Consultant Winemaker: Alberto Antonini

90 points - Wine Advocate 2010

Chakana wines make me smile even before I open the bottle, the packaging, the people behind the wine and the culture that influences these wines - put my taste buds at the ready - for what I know will be a fruit driven, early drinking wine with a little bit of the x-factor in each glass. This entire 'estate' range offers a wide variety of young wines with a short period of ageing in oak. These wines are specially designed to be enjoyed within a few years of being released.
100% Malbec, the fruit was handpicked and sourced from 35 year old vines grown in Mendoza. Picked at perfect ripeness, this wine went through 4 days of maceration to extract the natural soft tannins, then 10 days of fermentation at relatively mild temperatures for red wine production to extract the deep purple colours that fill the glass. Post fermentation 10% of the wine had 3 months development in American oak.
On the nose, the wine reveals ripe plums, sweet strawberries, fine spices and dried flowers that meld beautifully together. All these notes follow through onto the palate; where the rich fruit characters give an excellent mouth feel and finishes with velvety tannins. Decant for 15-20mins. Serve at 17-18C.

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

Perfect wine match with Tapas, BBQ'd meats and homemade pizza - enjoy.



Albariño is a white wine grape variety grown in Galicia (northwest Spain) and Moncao (northwest Portugal), where it is used to make varietal white wines. Albariño is actually the Galician name for the grape, with 'Albarin Blanco' an occasional synonym. In Portugal it is known as 'Alvarinho'.
The Albariño grape is the mainstay of wine production in the Rias Baixas DO, especially in the town of Cambados, representing 92% of its plantings, or approx 5,000 acres. History suggests that Burgundian monks from the Abbey of Cluny who came to Galicia at the invitation of Alfonso VII of Asturias in the 12th & 13th centuries brought the Albariño grape to Spain from France. This has led to the theory that this aromatic variety is related to Riesling or possibly Petit Manseng, but no genetic connection has been established. The most probable assumption is that Albariño is indigenous to Galicia.


It is also common in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal, but it is only authorized to be grown in Moncao. Rias Baixas DO was established on an experimental basis in 1986, Albariño began to emerge as a varietal, leading to the wines to be 'crafted for the palates of Europe, and beyond and for wine drinkers who wanted clean flavours and rich, ripe fruit' and led to wines completely different from those traditionally produced.
When grown in a vineyard, the vines need to be trained with large canopies to accommodate the 30 to 40 buds per vine that is typical. The wine produces highly aromatic white wines with fantastic acidity. The fruit is relatively hardy because of the thickness of its skin, a key contributor to its intense fragrance. Albariño yields a wine with a seductive perfume of citrus, grapefruit, lemon peel and white peach, with pronounced floral and almond notes. The grape's high extract carries these impressions onto a vivid palate which remains light, elegant and fresh due to the wine's elevated acidity. Albariño is very rarely given oak contact, but full malolactic fermentation is typically practiced.