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, August 30, 2011

Rockburn 'Twelve Barrels' Pinot Noir 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Central Otago, New Zealand

Winemaker: Malcolm Rees-Francis

The 2009 vintage ended on a high, perfect for fruit ripening achieving great levels of complexity and subtlety - all unexpected after a cool summer. 'Twelve Barrels' is a single vineyard wine displaying the richness, power and minerality created from their Parkburn Vineyard.
Rockburn Twelve Barrels is exactly that, sourced from all the barrels filled every year, Malcolm handpicked and blended the barrels that most reflected site and season, and exhibit what he enjoys most about Pinot Noir - subtlety, elegance and personality.
This wine is blended from several clones each fermented with 15% whole bunches and remained on skins for 23-29 days in 6.5 tonne fermenters. The fruit went through 7 days cold maceration; fermentation over 1 week with daily plunging followed by post fermentation maceration for 7 to 14 days, then barrel aged for 15 months in 100% French oak before bottling without fining or filtration.
In the glass a deep purple-hued, rich-red colour. On the nose aromas of ripe berries and dark plum fruits with matching spicy oak and dried herb notes. The palate is solid, rich, densely constructed, with good complexity, bold flavours of dark fruits and roasted plums and spiced with oak. A robust, full-flavoured statement of Central Otago Pinot Noir. Decant for 60-90 minutes, serve at 16-17C.

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

Perfect wine match with wild salmon, seared tuna steaks, duck and pork, enjoy.

A bold, fruit driven Central Otago Pinot Noir.


Pruning Grape Vines

Pruning grape vines is a basic principle that any winemaker, grape-grower, regardless of experience must understand. Whenever you leave a vine un-pruned, the first year you'll have a large crop; one may feel delighted with this success and wonder what all the pruning fuss is about.
Key fact one must know - the vine will produce more fruit than it knows what to do with because when you actually prune a vine correctly, you remove as much as 90% of the previous season's growth. If you leave all of that growth from the previous year it will have buds, which means you'll have a huge crop the following year.

The vine can't produce enough energy to ripen an unregulated crop, and it will be poor quality. The clusters will be straggly, and you won't have fruit worth using. Even if able to ripen, given that it has to work so hard the vine will have diverted energy that it would normally use to mature the 'wood' and to help the vine get ready for winter.
Correct pruning keeps the vine in balance; it maintains the vines natural equilibrium and helps keep the vine in the form you want. It allows you to have a good regular crop of the best quality grapes year after year. Grapevines have the ability to grow and cover a considerable area, so from a practical point of view this needs to be managed. In many ways pruning is, in essence, the art of grape growing, which seeks to improve on what nature does by encouraging the natural process.
Climate, variety and soil fertility determine the rate at which vines will progress. Hybrid varieties were developed to be hardier during the winter and more resistant to diseases. They tend to produce less foliage then traditional vines. The annual pruning removes the previous years fruiting canes or spurs. Because fruit is only produced on shoots growing from one-year-old canes, healthy new canes must be produced by the vine every year. Hand tools like secateurs and handsaws are typically used to prune grape vines, with the goal to avoid unnecessary injury to the plant.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Montes Classic Merlot 'Special Cuvee' 2009

Grape Variety: 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon

Growing Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile

Chief Winemaker: Aurelio Montes

The climate in Colchagua valley where the fruit for this wine is sourced is a little cooler than that of its northerly cousin Maipo, but still maintains a consistently Mediterranean climate, ideal for ripening these vines.
As with previous vintages a balanced blend of predominantly Merlot and a small portion of Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine has gone through oak ageing of six months in French oak barrels. Aromas of raspberries and hints of blackberries combine very well with the typical spiciness of the variety. In the glass the wine has elegant characters, refined and a marked fruitiness almost irresistible to Merlot enthusiasts for its soft texture. The fruit on the palate is ripe and sweet, with a hint of spicy black pepper and subtle chocolate notes, a wine full of harmony and velvety smooth on the finish.
Aurelio decided to blend 15% Cabernet Sauvignon with this Merlot fruit, to help marry with the oak, and give structure and mouth feel that will also support ageing in the bottle. This is a wine with a good balance of tannins and acidity, producing a friendly, soft wine with a long and pleasant finish. Decant for 15-20mins and serve at 16-17C.

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

Perfect wine match with lamb, pork, light pasta dishes, tapas, and mature cheeses, enjoy.

Another honest, early drinking style from Montes.


Vin Santo

Vin Santo (holy wine) is a style of Italian dessert wine. Traditional in Tuscany, these wines are often made from white grape varieties such as Trebbiano and Malvasia, though Sangiovese may be used to produce a 'rose' style known as 'Occhio di Pernice' or (eye of the partridge). The wines may accurately be described as straw wines since they are most often produced by drying the freshly harvested grapes on straw mats in a warm and well ventilated area of the winery.
Though technically a dessert wine, the wines can vary in sweetness levels from bone dry to extremely sweet. While the style is believed to have originated in Tuscany, examples of Vin Santo can be found throughout Italy and is an authorized style of wine for several DOCs and IGTs regions.


After the grapes are harvested, they are laid out on straw mats or under rafters. They are kept in warm, well ventilated rooms that allow the moisture in the grape to evaporate. This process of dehydration allows the sugars in the grape to be more concentrated.
After fermentation the grapes are then aged in small oak barrels. In many DOC regions, the wines are required to age for at least 3 years though it is not uncommon to age these wines for 5 to 10 years.
raditionally the barrels were made of chestnut instead of oak, which contributed high amounts of wood tannins and was very porous which promoted excessive evaporation. Towards the end of the 20th century, producers began switching to oak barrels while maintaining the tradition of not topping up the barrels and filling in the ullage space.
Typical flavours often include nutty or raisin notes with honey attributes. In Italy it is traditional to serve the wine as a digestif at the end of the meal after espresso. It is often served with biscotti cookies that may be dunked into the wine. The wines can even be fortified with grape spirit like Port added during fermentation - these fortified examples are usually labeled as Vin Santo Liquoroso.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Torbreck 'Woodcutter's' Shiraz 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: Sourced from 6 Barossa vineyards, Australia

Chief Winemaker: David Powell

As with all Torbreck wines - this wine has been hand harvested and hand tended, and sourced from low yielding vines. The fruit is then placed into open fermenters and pressed carefully and gently in a basket press. The wine is then aged on fine lees for 12 months in large format seasoned barrels and oak foudres. This wine reflects the up & coming Shiraz vineyard sites of the Barossa valley, rather than the battle hardened old vines which make up the core of Torbreck's other cuvees.
In the glass the wine is dense, rich and opulent in colour. This wine combines great fruit purity, with texture, mouth feel, complexity and finesse. The wine even in its youth is a well balanced combination of elegance, structure and power and it is a fantastic introduction to the Torbreck family of wines. Whilst offering immense pleasure in its youth the 2010 Woodcutter's Shiraz will develop into an impressive wine with a few years in the cellar.
Although this wine is succulent and rich - perhaps the best feature of this wine is its complexity and layers of flavour which are rarely found at this price. Decant for at least 30-40mins and serve at 18C.

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

Perfect wine match with a hearty meal, rich flavours and with hard cheeses, enjoy.

If you enjoy confident red wine, this is for you.


French Oak Barrels

French Oak is considered especially desirable wood for making wine barrels for many years. Most French Oak comes from one or more of the famous forests that were planted in the days of Napoleon for shipbuilding. Since the days of oak sailing ships have come and gone, these French forests have become ongoing forestry operations.
There are five primary forests used for wine barrel production: Allier, Limousin, Nevers, Trancais and Vosges. Each of these forests produces wood with distinctive characteristics involving tightness of the wood grain as well as the amount of oak flavours that are imparted to the wine. Tight grained wood tends to impart the oak characteristics (vanilla, spice and butter flavours) much more slowly than wood with looser grain. Winemakers select wood for their wine barrels from different forests for the effect on the finished wine.


The two most significant differences in wood preparation and barrel construction techniques are the seasoning of the wood and the way the staves are prepared. The French Coopers always let the wood air-dry for at least 24 months to attain proper seasoning. American barrel makers use a kiln-dry method to season the wood and the staves for the barrels are also sawn rather than split. The French barrel makers split the wood along the grain of the wood to make the staves. Splitting rather than sawing produces staves that have more subtle effects on the wine.
During the construction of the barrel, the partially assembled barrel is placed over a small wood fire to toast the inside. Winemakers can normally order their barrels with Light Toast, Medium Toast or Heavy Toast, depending upon the grape variety to be used in the barrel as well as the style of wine to be produced.
Many winemaking regions have traditional shapes - Bordeaux vs. Burgundy barrels. There are also many sizes of wine barrels as well as variations in the thickness of the staves and the way the barrels are constructed.

Riedel & 'Variety Children's Charity' - at Longroom

In August - I was very honoured to be asked to host a Riedel Tasting Experience to be held in the private room at ‘Longroom’ Ponsonby, Auckland for a special group of guests of the ‘Variety Children’s Charity’ of New Zealand. Some of you may be aware that by using unique and entertaining events to raise funds, Variety provides support to New Zealand children who are sick, disabled or disadvantaged through a range of programmes and individual grants. Since 1989, Variety has distributed more than $12 million to Kiwi kids in need.


The Riedel Tasting Experience is a unique, educational and entertaining experience. You don’t need to be a wine writer, winemaker or an expert to smell and taste the difference that a Riedel glass can make.
The Riedel family has been creating glassware for the last 250 years.  Claus J. Riedel (9th Generation) was the first person in the long history of the glass to design its shape according to the character of the wine. He is thus the inventor of the functional wine glass. Working with experienced tasters, Riedel discovered that wine enjoyed from his glasses showed more depth and better balance than when served in other glasses.
Bev Roberts - a key member of Variety asked if I could present a bespoke evening for their guests. So I designed an entertaining evening educating the guests about each of the 4 glasses we had on show, plus the opportunity to taste a premium selection of wines in a range of Riedel glasses, tailor-made for each of the wine varieties. Everyone who started out at the beginning of the evening as sceptical all saw and experienced for themselves the amazing difference that glassware can make to their wine experience. It was a great night; lots of chatter, laughter and many stayed after the tasting too enjoy the menu at the Longroom. It was my pleasure to host this Riedel Tasting (which I have done many times over the years) – but on this occasion where the guests were raising money for a great charity.
For more information of the great work that 'Variety' does and how you can be involved - visit: http://www.variety.org.nz/
If you want to know more about Riedel here in New Zealand - visit: http://www.riedel.co.nz/

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stonyridge 'Larose' 2008

Grape Variety: 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Malbec, 16% Merlot, 16% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc

Growing Region: Waiheke Island, Auckland

Owner/ Chief Winemaker: Steve White

95 points - Robert Parker Jnr. (Advocate Sept 2009).

No one has turned the lights off - this wine is very deeply coloured. This wine has an expressive bouquet of intense fruit explosions from the five Bordeaux varieties that make up this wine. Intensely perfumed, showing notes of cassis, dark plum and dark berries, freshly ground cloves, earthy notes, with a thread of sweet after-eights chocolate mint, cedar and soft fine spices fill the nose.
The palate has a big, ripe, mouth-filling character, due to its maturation in 70% new French oak, engulfed by the huge ripe fruit. Richly flavoured and beautifully complex, with immaculate fine tannins and a confident structure - all give this wine its world class credentials. This wine is greatly concentrated with a finish that lasts and lasts, don't plan on going to bed early after opening this wine.
As it has been said - many make the mistake and look for an occasion to open and enjoy a wine like this, the opening of this wine is the occasion. Though please note - if you are forced at gun-point to open this wine in the next few years, decant for at least 45mins, and serve in a large Riedel glass at 18C.

I would start to think about drinking this wine in about 5-7yrs, it can age until 2020.

Perfect wine match with wild game, prime cuts of rich red meats, wine jus and excellent company, enjoy.


Terraced Vineyards

Stunning terraced vineyards can be found in many wine regions of the world. Since the Romans inhabited several of these areas, people have been growing grapes on the steep terraces. They conquered the slopes, creating terraces to increase the acreage and prevent the soil from erosion and sliding into nearby rivers. With their hands and some rudimentary tools, plus in the region of the Douro Valley (with small/controlled dynamite explosions), they have sculpted huge and amazing works of art.
Steeply terraced vineyards, at dizzying pitches up to 70 degrees, can make life difficult for workers who harvest grapes by hand in these wine regions. Working these lands is extremely difficult as the terraces in some areas are so steep that all the grapes have to be brought in on a dumb waiter. But these hand-built terraces help produce some of the world's most distinctive wines.


The vineyard slope can be very important for several reasons: air drainage, water movement/erosion, and ease of managing with equipment. There is no perfect slope as it will depend on what is the primary limiting factor of concern. The soil of these terraced regions can be dominated by stones or porous slate which has ideal drainage for heavy rainfall and good heat retaining properties. Many of the best vineyards have no topsoil at all, just broken schist, slate and granite.
The steep terraces that are scattered around the Mosel, Rhone, Trentino and Douro regions just to name a few are considered some of the most labour intensive vineyards in the world. Mechanical harvesting is impractical and nearly seven times more man hours are needed than in more flat terrain. In areas like the Mosel and Rhone Valley grapevines are individually staked to the ground without connecting wires so that vineyard workers can tend the plants going horizontally across the vineyard rather than vertically. A benefit of these steep terraced vineyards is that the incline allows for more direct sunlight to have contact with the vines. During the winter, rain often causes some soil erosion, especially of the vital slate chips that are needed for their heat retaining properties. Many vineyards will gather these eroded sediments and carry them back up the hillside.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kaesler 'Old Bastard' Shiraz 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: Barossa, Australia

Chief Winemaker: Reid Bosward

95 points - James Halliday.

Kaesler own just over 92 hectares of vineyards in the Barossa Valley, the majority of the fruit for this wine came from 'old vines', in a vineyard planted back in 1893.
In the glass you have this deep red with a crimson hue. On the nose you will find bright cassis and blue berry, with hints of black berry and ripe plum. As the wine breaths and develops in the glass you will be greeted by sandalwood, cedar and even roasted meat aromas. This wine is a perfect expression of the honest purity of the age of the vines which is the core of this wine.
The palate is rich and intense and not for the faint hearted or those scared of the dark. The tannins are edgy and raw but have the strength and complexity to match with layered wine and give the wine more confidence to stand up to rich dishes and age well. Overall the palate is well balanced and with integrated layers of fruit oak and tannins this wine will keep your taste satisfied so don't rush this wine, take your time. Even it in youth this wine has matured well and is already showing its softer side, although it is still a comfortable 8-12 year proposition. Reid must be enormously proud of the wine with all the difficulties of the vintage. I would encourage decanting for 30-40 minutes and serve at 18C.

Drinking well this winter season; and will age for 8-12 years.

Perfect wine match with wild game dishes, rich sauces and aged hard cheeses, enjoy.


Palomino Grape

Palomino is a white grape widely grown in Spain (particularly in the Jerez region), and best known for its use in the production of sherry. In Spain, the grape is split into the sub-varieties Palomino Fino, Palomino Basto, and Palomino de Jerez, of which Palomino Fino is by far the most important grape variety used for sherry.
The wine formed is low in both acidity and sugar which, whilst suitable for sherry, ensures that any table wine made is of a low quality, unless aided by acidification. In France, it is referred to as Listan, and in South Africa as Fransdruif or White French. It is also found in Australia and California where it is also used mainly to produce fortified wines. The wine 'must' has a tendency to oxidize quickly, a characteristic that can be ignored when used for sherry production.


Approximately 95% of the grapes grown for Sherry are Palomino. As varietal table wine, the Palomino grape produces a wine with very bland characteristics. The Albariza soil is the best for growing the Palomino grape, and by law 40% of the grapes making up Sherry must come from Albariza soil. The Barros and Arenas soil are mostly used for Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel grapes - both used exclusively for sweet Sherries.
Palomino originated in the Andalusia region of southern Spain and was supposedly named after one of King Alfonso X's knights. It is high yielding, producing about 80 hl/ha without irrigation and can reach as much as 150 hl/ha. Harvested in early September, the 'must' from the first pressing, the 'primera yema', is used to produce Fino and Manzanilla and the 'must' from the second pressing, the 'segunda yema' used for Oloroso; any additional pressings is used for lesser wines, distillation and vinegar. The 'must' is then fermented in stainless steel vats until the end of November, producing a dry white wine with 11-12% alcohol. The Palomino grape covers over 28,000 hectares throughout Spain. At one point in time, Palomino Fino was one of 100 different grapes used in Sherry production.