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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Isabel Estate 'Marlborough' Chardonnay 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay

Growing Region: Wairau Valley, New Zealand

Head Winemaker: Patricia Miranda

It is always interesting to taste a wine made from different clones of Chardonnay and due to the unique cool climate location of the vineyards - this wine is made from 6 sometimes 7 clones. To craft such a complex wine the fruit from selected sites and rows was hand-picked and then gently whole bunch pressed. A portion was placed into stainless steel tanks for fermentation and then transferred into French oak barrels.
The other portion was fermented in second and third year old French oak barrels using different strains of yeast. Both were lee stirred regularly while ageing for over 12 months. Twenty percent of the barrels underwent Malolactic fermentation while being closely monitored. Each parcel was fermented in separate batches in an effort to highlight flavour diversity of clonal character and thereby enhance complexity.
In the glass you are greeted by a fairly pronounced yellow colour, the nose has developed considerably, but still showing a bright nutty bouquet. The palate has a concentration of fresh fruit, integrated toasty oak with firm, balanced acidity. The wine has layers of citrus and green apples, subtle floral notes as well as honey rounding out the palate complexity and adding to a lingering finish. Serve at 8-10C.

Drinking perfectly well this coming summer; and over the coming 12-18 months.

Perfect wine match with bbq pork, creamy chicken cuisine and mature brie, enjoy.

Layers of flavour and personality.


Cru Bourgeois

The Cru Bourgeois classification lists some of the high quality wines from the Left Bank Bordeaux wine regions that were not included in the 1855 Classification of Classed Growths, or Grands Crus Classes. The first Cru Bourgeois list was drawn up by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Agriculture in 1932, selecting 444 estates for the classification, and it graced the labels of these wines for more than six decades, even though the system was never officially ratified by the Agriculture Ministry.
A substantial revision of the classification, dividing it into three tiers, was initiated in 2000 and finalised in 2003. Following several legal turns, the 2003 Cru Bourgeois classification was annulled by the French government in 2007, resulting in a ban of all use of the term. The classification reverted to the 1932 with the tiers ‘Exceptionnel’ and ‘Superieur’ removed, and the original 444 estates equally classified Cru Bourgeois.


The Alliance des Crus Bourgeois responded to create a new certification adopting the term Label Cru Bourgeois from the 2007 vintage to be released in 2009, 'not as a classification, but as a mark of quality' open to all Medoc wines, based on production and quality standards, with nearly 300 estates opting in to this new, annual review. This new seal of quality would first appear with the 2007 vintage, the decisions as to which wines had qualified to be released just before the bottling in 2009. By mid-2009 this was looking unlikely, and the system only became fully active with the 2008 vintage, assessed by a panel in early 2010.
The benchmark that constitutes the minimum level of acceptability for a cru bourgeois is adjusted every year according to vintage quality. Thus in a poor vintage the number of labels is expected to drop. Any chateau can apply; all wines are re-tasted between March and July every year for the new listing. Wines are tasted in barrel, with a percentage re-tasted after bottling in anonymous 'shelf tests' - chosen at random from retailers' shelves.

Wines in Brief:


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to the second in my summer series of winemaker interviews.


Tony Bish - his sense of self-mastery for winemaking ignited in 1981 while working in Gisborne alongside Doug Wilson, Corban's winemaker at the time. Tony embarked on a six year correspondence degree in Oenology at Charles Sturt University in Australia, while continuing to work full time in the wine industry.
Tony began working at Sacred Hill at the beginning, in 1985, and the first vintage, 1986, was just 350 cases, which included the launch of Sacred Hill's first wine - a Fume Blanc. The wine sold out almost immediately, confirming the viability of the Sacred Hill venture.
After the launch, Tony moved on to hone his skills at a number of acclaimed wineries, including Brown Brothers in Australia, Rippon Vineyards in Central Otago and Martinborough Vineyards in the Wairarapa. He returned to work with the Mason family in 1994, and his nose for detail has seen Sacred Hill wines accelerate to the front of the New Zealand & International wine scene. Tony has now amassed more than 100 Trophies, gold medals and 5 Stars - an achievement that makes him one of New Zealand's top winemakers.

I have had the pleasure to know Tony since 1994, when I was visiting my family in Hawke’s Bay, knowing the Mason brothers (the owners of Scared Hill) for several years - I made my way over the hill from Taradale to visit the winery and the infamous cliffs that set the scene for a dramatic vineyard location, plus for a select few - one of the world’s best places to practice clay-bird shooting. Over the years it has been a unique opportunity to see at such close quarters a winemaker and his vines develop and grow together, while at the same time crafting wines that excite and stretch the palates of local wine enthusiasts and international wine aficionados. Tony has truly mastered his own domain i.e. unique terroir and different grape varieties and shaped internationally respected wines.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
“First attraction as seasonal work over vintage. 84 hours a week was a great way to fund my winters skiing! After two or three vintages, I got the wine bug bad, and realised the industry had significant potential to make premium and super premium wines”.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
“I enrolled in Wine Science by correspondence at Charles Sturt University in Australia, and spent 6 years commuting twice a year to residential schools. This was 1984-1989”.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
“Chardonnay - I love its complexity and the way it expresses great terroir. Power, elegance and finesse, a wine that can be so completely satisfying.

Syrah - It such an exciting variety here in Hawke’s Bay! Fun to work with as we are on a steep learning curve while producing better and better wine each year. It’s very dynamic. The wines from Gimblett gravels are so amazing, richly flavoured and smooth textured, ultimately drinkable!

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends - Here in Gimblett gravels we are making world class blended red wines that are rocking the world. I love the complexity of the blending process, and getting Cabernet ripe and balanced is very rewarding”.


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
“Petite Verdot would be a great additional variety to work with our Gimblett gravels red blends. We love Cabernet Franc, and its small but crucial role in great blends, but I would love to add Petite Verdot to the blending table”.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
“The vineyard walks, the critical picking decisions, the buzz when you know you have just picked some really good fruit. The influx of new and keen vintage staff is awesome too. The sense of teamwork and camaraderie is great”.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
“The last vintage (the last one is always the most interesting and challenging!). Vintage 2011 was such a vintage of extremes. Brilliant in Marlborough for us, we have already won many Gold medals, but super challenging in Hawke’s Bay, where untimely rain destroyed all our best Chardonnay. But we were able to rock on, and have made some outstanding red blends from later ripening fruit”.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
“To be frank, no one single person, but many. Mike Grgich, ‘The King of Chardonnay’ in Napa Valley was a positive influence. He was interviewed in his 70’s and asked a question about his winemaking philosophy. He said then that he was just getting the hang of it! Humble, determined, and constantly pursuing quality. Paul Pontallier of Chateau Margaux. I heard him speak about making great red wines many years ago at a Cool Climate Winemaking Symposium. Very articulate, and very clear about what attributes great red wine should possess. Inspirational, as are his wines”.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
“I would like to meet and taste wines with Peter Gago of Penfolds Australia. His work with Yattarna and Bin 08A along with his legendary reds, he would be fascinating to talk to and learn from”.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you – what would it be and why?
“Well, it would be hot and dry and kind of beautiful. So providing I had ice and a Riedel flute….a Methuselah of 1990 Cristal Brut Millenum cuvée”!
If you could make wine anywhere else in the world – where would it be and why?
“Burgundy, Bonneau du Martray, Corton Charlemagne. Awesome as Chardonnay (& Pinot!)”.

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
“Educate, travel, and find what inspires you”.


If you weren’t a winemaker – what would you like to be and why?
“Tough one. Wine buyer for the rich and famous, advising on what to load the cellars with, travelling and tasting the wines from the great regions of the world (by private jet naturally). Well you did ask!”

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
“Syrah will become a NZ rock star. It’s happening, and the next ten years will be exciting. Chardonnay will make a comeback if there is any right in this world. Marlborough Sauvignon is still the best in the world, so when global market recovery happens and supply tension returns, better times will return for our most important commercial variety. Sacred Hill will be more and more globally recognised as a premium producer of NZ wines, whilst remaining an awesome place to work!”

Sacred Hill Wines are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants. Or visit their website: Sacred Hill Wines.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fallen Angel 'Marlborough' Riesling 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Riesling

Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Chief Winemaker: Steve White

As the longer and warmer days start to stretch across this fare land, I'm sure many of you like myself are thinking about enjoying shellfish and prawns on the bbq, summer salads and alike and what better match than a fresh, citrus driven glass of Riesling.
The fruit for this wine came from two vineyard blocks owned by the Wiffen family in the Omaka sub-region of Marlborough's Wairau Valley. Each individual parcel of fruit was separately crushed and pressed early morning in Marlborough, with the chilled juice then being transported to the winery to complete its transformation. The first parcel added incredible citrus lime and lemon characters. This made the palate focused and concentrated, and a pure minerality was revealed. The next two parcels were broad in their palate weight, with extremely rich tropical aromatics.
100% fermented in stainless steel, using three different yeast strains and a range of ferment temperatures, to retain varietal expression. The components were then blended together, producing a wine that expresses vibrant citrus characters and a ripe stone fruit balance between fruit sugar and acid minerality. On the nose a beautifully focused wine that exhibits intense citrus fruit characters of lemons and limes, overlaid with riper tropical hints of mango and pineapple. The palate is balanced perfectly with the sweetness/acid symmetry, with the richness and fruit weight in harmony with the mineral backbone, giving a persistent fresh finish. Serve at 8C.

Drinking perfectly well this coming summer; and right through 2012.

Perfect wine match with shellfish, prawns, sushi, crisp salads and more, enjoy.

Packed with citrus flavours and freshness.


Calories in Wine

Most people have a general idea how many calories they consume when it comes to food groups, although it is quite common to forget that when drinking wine that we are still consuming calories. So how many calories are in wine?
The answer depends on your wine choice - though most wines come in around the 100 calorie mark per glass. Assuming you are using the appropriate serving in the correctly shaped wine glass. There are fewer calories in wine than most other alcoholic beverages. Sauvignon Blanc can come in at 80 calories per serving. Chablis is a mild 85 calories, Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet all round out at 90 calories per glass. With just 5 additional calories you can sip Red Burgundy, Red Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Merlot, Rhone, or Rose and dry Champagne comes is in at approx 105 calories. Other wines weigh in much heavier in the calories - Muscatel and Madeira come in at 160, Tokay sneaks up to 165 while White Port hits 170 and Ruby Port tops the list at 185.


While a single glass may only add about 100 calories to an evening, those who drink wine regularly tend to do so with a certain amount of vigour, consuming between 3 and 5 glasses in an evening. It's not just about the calories in wine when trying to maintain a low calorie lifestyle and still participate at social events. Some calories are easier to burn while others are easier to store. Wine comes from fruit which is a form of sugar. The sugar in wine, even dry wines, makes calories harder to burn off. Sugar that comes from fruit is a natural and healthy energy, although once the fruit has been fermented, the sugar content changes and becomes more fructose-like than its original form. The calories in alcohol are metabolised first by the body, ahead of burning fat - which is not desirable if on a diet.
Now, keeping in mind that an average gin and tonic is around 280 calories and that most frozen alcoholic drinks can average 800 calories or above, needless to say red or white wine is certainly a low calorie choice given the options.

Wines in Brief:


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to the first in my summer series of winemaker interviews.


Caroline Frey - former equestrian champion and an accomplished pianist also topped her Class of 2003 in oenology at the University of Bordeaux. Caroline’s family own Chateau La Lagune in the Haut Medoc, along with Maison Jaboulet in the Rhone Valley, and has a substantial but not majority shareholding in Champagne Billecart-Salmon in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ.
Chateau La Lagune is the first Cru Classe one encounters as you drive along the Route du Medoc. The Frey family has owned the property since 2000, and is determined to produce a wine of the highest order worthy of this honour. Classified as a Third Growth Haut-Medoc in the 1855 Classification, La Lagune is in the village of Ludon before Le Pian.
Caroline Frey has been the winemaker at Ch. La Lagune since 2004, in the same year she asked her former professor, Denis Dubourdieu, to join as a consultant.
In 2006, the family bought a prestigious yet slightly tired domain, Paul Jaboulet Ainé in the Rhone Valley. There, Caroline discovered the power of some of the rarest terroirs of the Northern Rhone.

I have had the pleasure to meet with Caroline Frey in both Bordeaux at Chateau La Lagune in the Haut Medoc and at Maison Jaboulet in the Rhone Valley. So thought what better way to start this series than by talking with a winemaker who works with two such unique, removed terroirs and different grape varieties and find out what shapes the winemaker, who shapes these influential wines.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
“I grew up amongst some of the world’s most beautiful vineyards in Champagne, where my father purchased his first vineyards when I was very young. We spent a lot of time together in the vineyards and in the cellars. I always had many questions and he would take the time to explain details about the vineyards and winemaking to me. Growing up I was very interested in wine but not yet ready to become a winemaker as I was consumed by another passion - horse-riding and show-jumping in equestrian competitions! It was only when I turned 20-years-old that I decided to study oenology.”

Where and when did you study winemaking?
“I studied at the Bordeaux Enology University (2002-2003). There I had the chance to meet my mentor Denis Dubourdieu and I did several training periods in his winery”.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
“I love all the grape varieties, especially the ones I use in both our properties at La Lagune and Paul Jaboulet Ainé: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier!”


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
“I would like to have a parcel of Petit Arvine! This is a little known Swiss grape varietal.”

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
“The challenge is always to produce better and better wines. I am always trying to improve.”

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
“Denis Dubourdieu. He is my mentor! He has taught me the value of continuously trying to do better.”

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
“I would like to meet Georges Brunet; he really saved La Lagune in the 60’s and Gerard Jaboulet who poured his life into the winery. Without them La Lagune and Jaboulet would probably not be here today.”

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you – what would it be and why? It would
“It would have to be wine which is beautiful and also one which holds sentimental value for me. And there is only one wine I would consider. It is our exclusive blend, one barrel only(!), called ‘DUO’  - 50% La Lagune and 50% La Chapelle. Tres Belle!”

If you could make wine anywhere else in the world – where would it be and why?
“It would be in Switzerland, in the Valais. It is the North of the Rhone Valley!”

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
“First condition to succeed: Being Passionate!”


If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
“My vision for our wineries is to have fully biodynamic viticulture - that will be my challenge in the next few years!”

Both Chateau La Lagune and Maison Jaboulet are available in New Zealand from quality wine retailers. Or visit their websites: Chateau La Lagune  -  Maison Paul Jaboulet

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rimu Grove 'Nelson' Pinot Gris 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Gris

Growing Region: Moutere, Nelson, New Zealand

Owner/ Winemaker: Patrick Stowe

I already know one of my New Year's resolutions for next year, drink more wine from Nelson. If I forget, what hope do most of our wine enthusiasts have that don't live in this part of the wine world. Nelson has a great deal to offer with New Zealand's diverse cuisine and this wine displays that fact with charm and character.
The fruit for this wine was sourced from their Moutere Hills vineyard, the carefully harvested ripe fruit underwent 100% whole-cluster pressing. The resultant intense juice - 15% was aged on lies in seasoned French oak barrels for 6 months, the remaining 85% matured on its lies in stainless steel tanks, to retain the vibrant personality of this variety.
In the glass you are greeted by a light golden colour. Escaping from the glass you have aromas of citrus blossom, pear, tropical fruits and spice notes. The intense nose nearly prepares you for the opulence of the palate, which is rich in texture, with a thick and rich mouth-feel, Manuka honey fills the mid-palate and the wine finishes off with lingering notes of quince spice and Moutere mineral characters. Serving Temperature: 9-11C.

Drinking perfectly well this coming summer; and will age for another 2-3 years.

Perfect wine match with Asian cuisine, subtle spices and vegetarian dishes, enjoy.

Layers of flavour that will surprise and delight.



Sekt is the German word for quality sparkling wine. Approx 95% of Sekt produced is made by the 'Charmat' method with the remaining premium Sekt made according to the 'Methode Traditionnelle'. Low-cost sparkling wine made by CO2 injection must not be called Sekt, but rather Schaumwein (German for 'foam wine'), semi-sparkling wine is called Perlwein. Also of note, approx 90% of Sekt is made at least partially from imported grape juice from Italy, Spain and France. Sekt labeled as 'Deutscher' Sekt is made exclusively from German grapes and Sekt b.A. - only from grapes from one of the 13 quality wine regions in Germany.


Premium Sekt wines are made using: Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir grapes, with much of it drunk locally rather than exported. These Sekts are usual vintage dated with the village and vineyards that the grapes are from. Premium Sekt b.A. produced in smaller lots is often referred to as Winzersekt (winegrower's Sekt), as it is typically produced by a winemaker which has his own vineyards, rather than by the large Sekt-producing companies which buy grapes or base wine on a large scale for their production.
German production of sparkling wines dates back to 1826, when G. C. Kessler & Co. was founded. The names used by German producers for their sparkling wines in the 19th century were 'Mousseux', 'Sect' or 'Champagne, but the 1919 Treaty of Versailles prevented Germany from using this name, long before E.U. regulations prohibited its use outside the Champagne region. Sekt was initially an informal German name for sparkling wine, coined in Berlin in 1825, but was in common use by the 1890s. Germany long attempted to have the name Sekt reserved for sparkling wine from countries with German as an official language, but these regulations were ended by the European Court of Justice in 1975.
Austrian Sekt is often made with the Welschriesling and Gruner Veltliner grapes giving the wine a golden colour. German and Austrian Sekt can be made trocken (dry) or halbtrocken (medium dry).

Wines in Brief:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Taylors 'Jaraman' Riesling 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Riesling

Growing Region: 59% Clare Valley & 41% Eden Valley, South Australia

Chief Winemaker: Adam Eggins

Gold Medal - Decanter World Wine Awards 2010.

A lively collaboration of two unique wine regions of South Australia. After harvesting the fruit in the evening, the winemaking team gave this wine as with all the fruit at Taylors immense care to ensure varietal and regional flavours formed in the vineyard were carried through to the bottle. The free run juice was racked and a relatively neutral yeast strain added to initiate the fermentation that was carried out in stainless steel tanks at cool temperatures, then minimal fining and filtration prior to bottling.
In the glass a bright wine with a slight lime hue. On the nose, expressive floral aromas along with lime, lemon and a slight mineral note. The Clare Valley component delivers ample ripe citrus flavours with tight acidity while the Eden Valley parcel adds a touch of mineral complexity. This crafted wine shows flavours of fresh lemon, kaffir lime leaf, a firm mid-palate with cleansing acidity. The wine has an underlying mineral character which adds to the elegant finish of the wine. Serve at approx 8-9C.

Drinking perfectly well this coming summer; and will age for 5-6 years.

Perfect wine match with chilly prawns, Asian seafood, Greek salad, enjoy.



Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol - and it is a volatile, flammable, colourless liquid. Ethanol is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a solvent and as a fuel. In more common usage, it is often referred to simply as alcohol or spirits.
The fermentation of sugar into ethanol is one of the earliest organic reactions done by mankind; dried residues on 9,000-year-old pottery found in China imply that Neolithic people consumed alcoholic beverages. The intoxicating effects of ethanol consumption have been known since ancient times.

Ethanol has widespread use as a solvent of substances intended for human contact or consumption, including scents, flavourings, colourings, and in medicines.
Most alcoholic beverages can be broadly classified as fermented beverages, beverages made by the action of yeast on sugary food-groups, or distilled beverages, beverages whose preparation involves concentrating the ethanol in fermented beverages by distillation. The ethanol content of a beverage is usually measured in terms of the volume fraction of ethanol in the beverage, expressed either as a percentage or in alcoholic proof units.
Alcohol is one of the four energy sources of the human body along with carbohydrates, fat and protein. If you study how the body processes wine, you discover that the liver converts the alcohol into acetate, which the body burns for fuel. The body creates 7 calories of energy per gram of alcohol.
Fermented beverages can be broadly classified by the food-group they are fermented from. Beers are made from cereal grains or other starchy materials, wines and ciders from fruit juices, and meads from honey.
Alcoholic beverages are sometimes used in cooking, not only for their inherent flavours but also because the ethanol dissolves hydrophobic flavour compounds, which water cannot.

Wines in Brief: