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 27, 2011

Chakana 'Reserve' Malbec 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Malbec

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

Consultant Winemaker: Alberto Antonini

I simply enjoy the honesty of these wines. Every bottle I have tried since coming across this brand several years ago have excited the taste buds and matched some many cuisine moments. The fruit for this wine comes from grapes grown on a 150 hectare estate in Agrelo, Lujan de Cuyo - Mendoza at 960 metres above sea level.
After all the fruit was carefully hand harvested and in the winery. The fruit underwent two days of cold maceration on skins in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Fermentation took place for 12 days with selected yeasts at 26C combined with pigeage and delestage to enhance fruit extraction and soft tannins. Malolactic fermentation took place and then maturation for 12 months in oak barrels (50% French and 50% American).
The result is a deep red coloured wine with violet hints. On the nose you will find ripe plums and other dark fruits, exotic spices, with hints of violet and rich chocolate. All of these characters carry through onto the palate - which expresses these lovely elevated fruit and spice tones with well balanced tannins, giving the wine a persistent finish. Decant for 30-40mins and serve at 16-18C.

Drinking perfectly well this season; and will age for another 7-8 years.

Perfect wine match with BBQ'd, roasted and smoked meat dishes, and hard cheeses - enjoy.

Setting the standard for Malbec.


Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Vernaccia is a white Italian wine, made from the Vernaccia grape, produced in and around the Italian hill town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. Since the Renaissance period it has been considered one of Italy's finest white wines. It was the first Italian wine to be awarded DOC status in 1966; then on July 9th, 1993 it was upgraded to DOCG.
The word Vernaccia loosely means common, local or native grape. In fact, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a grape strictly connected to the area and cannot be found in any other wine region. Vernaccia di San Gimignano's origins are shrouded in the mists of time, over the centuries the vines have adapted superbly to the soils around San Gimignano.


Internationally, it is probably the least appreciated Tuscan wine, firstly because it is not a red wine and secondly because this indigenous grape is naturally high in acidity and not particularly fragrant. In San Gimignano, the Vernaccia grapes planted in sandstone based vineyards tend to produce the best examples of Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The wine is characteristically dry with crisp acidity and a lively bright finish.
Modern winemaking has introduced the use of oak aging to give the wine another layer of complexity and palate roundness. While very different from the historic style of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the success of these more modern and international styles is yet to be established. Vernaccia the grape is thought to be a descendant, possibly, of Grechetto, widely used in the wines of Umbria to the south of Tuscany.
There are approx 200 producers of Vernaccia di San Gimignano with a production of about 5.5 million bottles annually. The resulting wines from this dynamic, historic region can vary greatly in flavour from the north to south depending on the terroir. One trait all Vernaccia possesses is a crisp acidity that the painter Michelangelo said, "...kisses, licks, bites, pinches and stings" and a subtle, pleasant, bright finish.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lake Chalice 'Raptor' Chardonnay 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay

Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Owner/ Winemaker: Chris Gambitsis

Gold Medal - NZ International Wine Comp. 2011.

The 2010 Raptor Chardonnay was sourced from two very special sites. Two thirds of the fruit come from Peter and Ann Reeds vineyard in the Wairau Valley (and picked on the 1st of April) and one third from Hamish and Fiona Turners Awatere vineyard site (picked on the 18th of April).
After crushing and a light pressing the juice was barrel fermented in a mixture of new and one year old French oak barrels. Two thirds of the barrels were allowed to go through a 'wild ferment' without the inoculation of a cultured yeast. Full malolactic fermentation followed with 10 months maturing on light lees before blending and bottling in March 2011.
The result is a full bodied Marlborough Chardonnay with aromas of white peach, nectarine and underlying hints of nuts and spice. The palate is full and at the same time elegant and creamy with well balanced lively acidity that leads to a bright and persistent finish. Serve at 13-14C.

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

Perfect wine match with fresh chicken fettuccini, smoked ham and creamy cheeses, enjoy.


Soil Quality & Wine

Site selection and soil composition of a vineyard is one of the most important viticultural considerations when planting grape vines - that will have the greatest impact on wine quality.
Wine growers look for moderately fertile soils that do not promote an overly vigorous vine. It's no surprise that grapevines can often be found on ground that farmers deemed unsuitable for any other crop. The ideal circumstance for a vine is an area of thin topsoil and subsoil that sufficiently retains waters but also has good drainage so that the vine roots don't become too saturated. The ability of the soil to retain heat and/or reflect it back up to the vine canopy is also an important consideration that affects the ripening of the grape.


There are several minerals that are vital to the health of vines that all good vineyard soils have. These include calcium which helps to neutralize the soil pH levels, iron which is essential for photosynthesis, magnesium which is an important component of chlorophyll, nitrogen which is assimilated in the form of nitrates, phosphates which encourages root development, and potassium which improves the vine metabolisms and increases its health for next year's crop.
However, nutrients are essential to plant growth and ultimately to the ripeness of the grapes. It can therefore be argued that, indirectly, nutrients are essential to the production of high quality wine. It is the absorption of minerals that is key. Poor absorption creates imbalances, excesses or shortages, each with their causes and effects on plant growth. It is especially critical in relations to nitrogen and potassium content in the soil as their impact is largest.
When it comes to two of the greatest vineyards in the world - Laffite Rothschild and Domain de la Romanee Conti - soil quality is best expressed. There is a unique richness and you can taste it in the wine, a smell of aroma that emblazes into the mind. What is reflected in the soil is reflected in the plant, and in the taste of the wine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chapel Hill 'The Parson's Nose' Shiraz 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: McLaren Vale, Australia

Chief Winemaker: Michael Fragos

91 points - Gary Walsh, Winefront.

The 'Parson's Nose' Shiraz is an exciting, dynamic wine, full of personality and character. The fruit for this wine has been sourced from McLaren Vale - deservedly recognized as one of the world's leading Shiraz producing regions. This premium quality McLaren Vale Shiraz is packed with flavour, with an opulent mouthfeel and a charismatic firm tannin structure. Pleasing to see that the oak only plays a supporting role and is utilized skilfully to not override the primary varietal characteristics.
After an eventful growing season, the grapes were harvested at a carefully selected time to avoid any overripe, broad or jammy fruit flavours. Fermentation was handled gently and only tight grained French oak was used during the maturation process. Subsequent regular racking encouraged the well balanced integration of the youthful tannins.
The 2010 Parsons Nose Shiraz displays explosive aromas of blueberries and star anise, dusted with dried herbs and spice. The luscious palate is brimming with ripe, dark plum flavours that seamlessly integrate with the gently textured oak and the firm persistent tannins, creating a great mouthfeel that lingers on and on. If you wish to enjoy this coming season, please decant for at least 60 minutes and serve at 17C.

Drinking this season after decanting; will age well for another 7-8 years.

Perfect wine match with herb crusted lamb shanks, rich meat pasta dishes, enjoy.


Frost Damage

Frost damage is a significant production hazard in nearly all locations of temperate zone viticulture. Damage to young, tender vine shoots during spring is a problem in cold climates areas and in vineyards with frost pockets. Cold air is heavier than warm air and it will settle and form layers with the coldest air near the ground. If the vineyard site is flat, or worse, if it is in a low spot with high ground around, the cold air will settle or flow there. By contrast a sloping site allows the heavier, cold air to flow down the slope and is replaced by warmer air from above.


Grapes are more sensitive than many other plants, plus the tolerance of grape tissue to cold temperatures is relative to their stage of growth. Damage to unprotected green tissue occurs when temperatures are at or below 0C for extended periods. Frost damage often varies dramatically from plant to plant. Even in low areas, it is not uncommon to see one vine barely affected and an adjacent vine much more severely damaged.
Vines that have not broken bud are less prone to damage - however, susceptibility depends on the stage of bud swell; once sap starts to flow, buds are less hardy. A bud that is just swelling can tolerate temperatures in the low -4C with little damage. But as soon as the bud has broken and the leaves unfold, the tissue is sensitive to temperatures of 0C. Grape varieties may also vary in their response to freezing temperatures.
Damage usually shows as wilted shoot tips and some leaves may turn brown and dry out, but older leaves may remain alive and display a pattern of flecking with sectors of yellow, white and green.
In many cases the vines will recover as secondary buds at the base of the damaged shoot will break and produce healthy shoots for this growing season. These shoots are seldom as fruitful as the original primary shoots, so fruit yields will be greatly reduced.
While the technologies to achieve vine protection exist - both economic and practical considerations limit their application.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Regis Camus Sparkling Winemaker of the Year 2011

2011 International Wine Challenge - London

Regis Camus has just received his sixth Sparkling Winemaker of the Year trophy. Remarkable? Indeed. But also something of a habit.

In London on 6th September, Regis Camus was named Sparkling Winemaker of the Year at the 2011 International Wine Challenge. Like last year, the year before that, and the years before that. In fact, this is the sixth time that the winemaker of Charles Heidsieck and Piper Heidsieck champagnes has received this award, and the fifth consecutive year. A record equalled only by his predecessor Daniel Thibault, under whom he worked for eight years before succeeding to the post himself in 2002.

Daniel Thibault invented the Charles Heidsieck style, and Regis Camus has defined that of Piper-Heidsieck, without ever deviating from his mentor's legacy. This year again, the quality of the wines resulting from his flawless accuracy and excellence was widely applauded. Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve was voted best French wine by 'Bettane et Desseauve'. At the International Wine Challenge, Charles Heidsieck Millesime 2000 was named Best Sparkling Wine, a distinction awarded to Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 1995 at the Decanter World Wine Awards and to Piper-Heidsieck Rare 1998 at the Japan Wine Challenge.

When a great winemaker is trained by another great winemaker, when their understanding runs so deep that the absence of one fails to weaken the other, when this constancy finds resonance in the wine, year after year, something very special happens - something that our restless, fickle times forget to value, but something that is essential for a great champagne house and a great champagne: continuity.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Paul Jaboulet 'La Chapelle' Hermitage 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Syrah

Growing Region: Rhone Valley, France

Chief Winemaker: Caroline Frey

Contrary to popular belief 'La Chapelle' is not sourced from a single parcel of Hermitage. Rather it is a masterful blend of; Les Bessards, Les Greffeux, Le Meal and Les Rocoules. The varied richness of these diverse parcels that range from 40 to 60 years of age, join together to create a wine of incredible complexity and longevity.
As you can imagine with the steepness of the site the grapes are hand-picked and brought to the base of the hill in small sleds. The selected grapes undergo a strict sorting prior to vinification. Each parcel is vinified separately and aged for 15 to 18 months or more in the cellars of the domaine, during this process the wines are also racked. Once the final blend is chosen, the wine receives additional time in barrel and is then aged in bottle prior to release to the market.
This wine is highly complex and distinguished on the nose, revealing the Syrah's great finesse. As you breath the wine in your large wine glass you have aromas of intense black fruits, sweet spices and, ultimately, finely woody. Then if you can be patient before diving in tot glass, when you plate does receive its first sip the wine is full and generous, layers upon layers of character all perfectly balanced by silky tannins and a very long persistent finish. If you wish to open this open over the next few years, please decant for at least 90mins preferably 2 hours, then serve at 18C.

Drinking well this Rugby season, but will appreciate another 15-20 years.

Perfect wine match with wagyu beef, ostrich, venison, wine jus, and good friends, enjoy.

One of the world's most revered wines.



Sauternes is a sort after French sweet wine from the Sauternes region of the Graves section in Bordeaux, France. Sauternes is made from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea - noble rot. This causes the grapes to become partially dehydrated, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavoured. Due to its climate, Sauternes is one of the few wine regions where infection with noble rot occurs frequently. This said there are varying harvests from vintage to vintage. Sauternes wines can be expensive, due largely to the high cost of production.


Sauternes wine region comprises five communes - Barsac, Sauternes, Bommes, Fargues and Preignac. To qualify for the Sauternes label, the wines must have a minimum 13% alcohol and pass a tasting exam, though there is no regulation on the exact amount of residual sugar that the wine needs. In the winery grapes are treated very gently during pressing and fermentation frequently takes place in oak barrels with the house style dictating the amount of new oak used. After fermentation the wine can be aged from 18-36 months in oak prior to release.
Semillon can make up to 75-90% of a Sauternes blend, though weather conditions can effect the final composition as the grapes are not evenly affected by noble rot. Semillon is very easily affected due to its thin skin, though Sauvignon Blanc is normally affected first. Sauvignon Blanc is valued for the acidity that it can add and its ability to harmonize with Semillon. Muscadelle is used in very small quantities, if at all, and contributes aromatic qualities.