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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.

Cecchi Wines was founded in 1893 in Tuscany, Italy. After several years of experience as an assistant in the cellars of the most famous commercial vineyards in the area, Luigi Cecchi set up his own business as a wine taster and broker. From 1919 when his 3 sons were working in the company, Cecchi rapidly established their reputation in almost every region of Italy. In 1948, his son Luigi entered the company, due to his father's premature death, running the company on his own from 1953.


In the 1970s, Cecchi moved to ‘Castellina in Chianti’, an area which has traditionally produced Chianti Classico. In their cellar, equipped with the latest technology, the final part of the winemaking cycle is completed. The fermentation operations are carried out at the four commercial vineyards distributed in famous DOC zones in Tuscany and Umbria: Villa Cerna in the Chianti Classico region, Castello di Montauto at San Gimignano, Val delle Rose near Grosseto, and Tenuta Alzatura at Montefalco, in Umbria. Since 2004, following the death of Luigi, his sons Cesare and Andrea, along with their mother Anita, have run the company with enthusiasm and passion.
Andrea Cecchi says - ‘‘Tradition doesn't mean old wines".  As Tuscany has modernized, the Cecchi family has adopted both respectful as well as long venturing reforms. Over the years I have had the pleasure to visit all the vineyards that they own. Each time I visit; the team who are an extension of the Cecchi family and make you feel so welcome, have included me in several exiting projects over the years. When you go through the wines - you can see that each wine has its own history - Andrea, his brother and the talented team they have working with them are determined to grow a dynamic and positive future.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I was born in the heart of Tuscany, where I have always smell the perfume of vines, grapes, harvests; it is something under my skin.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
I have a degree in agriculture from the University of Agraria in Florence, graduating in 1988.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
Sangiovese with no doubts! It is my personal challenge harvest after harvest...


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
To show its best expression.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
That was back in 1998, I was much younger - I learnt a lot form that season.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
Giacomo Tachis, as he was the real innovator of viticulture in Italy. *(He joined Antinori’s San Casciano winery in Tuscany in 1961, and helped in the creation of a new wine called - Sassicaia)

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Current, Sharon Stone to go deep into her knowledge about wine, I hope she is a good wine drinker. Past Einstein, I’ll ask him the theory of relativity.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you – what would it be and why?
I hope to spend a short period on the desert island, as one single bottle wouldn’t be enough for me. In any case I would choose Chianti Classico Riserva di Famiglia as I have my family with me, so it is merely an emotional choice.

If you could make wine anywhere else in the world – where would it be and why?
France and New Zealand.


What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Be a person of the world, have an international vision, do sport, as this is a job that requires a lot of energy.

If you weren’t a winemaker – what would you like to be and why?
I would shoe horses. Horses are one of my great passions.

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
I would like to have a dynamic company, “alive”, with the possibility to fit and understand the all the change the world have. A young winery, in its soul, maybe difficult to manage but with potentiality to develop: in my mind my wines should be tied to the tradition, made in the respect of the history of my terroir, such as Chianti Classico Riserva, with leads people in the path of life, but at the same time young wines, easy to enjoy every moment of the days.

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kilikanoon 'Killerman's Run' Shiraz 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: Selected - South Australia Vineyards

Founder/ Winemaker: Kevin Mitchell

Old Mr Killerman was a hermit who lived alone in the wild bush-land behind Kilikanoon's cellar door. Trapping rabbits, and as legend has it, making his own plonk in a galvanised iron lean-to. Rich and powerful fruit with a persistence of palate weight, this Killerman's Run Shiraz offers outstanding drinkability.
Fruit is sourced from vineyards in the Clare and Barossa Valleys, McLaren Vale, and exciting new winegrowing districts like Baroota on the Spencer Gulf. Small batches are vinified to Kevin's exacting winemaking standards and then matured in a selection of small French and American oak barrels, before assembling and bottling without filtration.
Kilikanoon's reds are all impressive, rich, concentrated offerings displaying elegance and balance as well as precision in their youth. Kevin has chosen terroir carefully to enable a wide range of wines which seek to express the individuality of their respective sites.
In the glass you have a rich red colour with a youthful crimson edge. On the nose intensely lifted aromas of ripe plums, dark cherries and sublimely focused French oak spices permeate the nose. The wine has a beautifully crafted palate, carrying over the ripe plum and dark cherry fruits from the nose, and elegantly integrating the fine French oak character, balanced by natural tannins and acidity giving the wine layers of flavour and a persistent finish. Serve at 17C.

Drinking perfectly well this autumn/winter; and over the next 5-7 years.

Perfect wine match with crusted lamb-rack, prime cuts of meat and a wide array of subtle spiced cuisine, enjoy.

A wine that deserves your attention and good cuisine.



Zibibbo is a white grape and wine produced on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria. Ancient Arab settlers brought the aromatic grape, also called zibibbo ('zibib' is Arabic for 'grape') to the island, and this forerunner to Marsala has been made there for centuries. The grapes, which are similar in aromatics to Muscat, are left on the vine till they partially ferment in the sun as they raisin. The resulting wine, also known as Bianco di Pantelleria, has characteristics of fortified wines, but without the addition of brandy, and with lower alcohol.


Zibibbo is a grape variety that can be used to make anything from table wine to grappa. However, the Zibibbo made commercially by several houses is a strong wine similar to Marsala but fermented and then partially distilled naturally, without the addition of spirits. The process differs also in that Zibibbo is actually made from grapes partially fermented in the sun. It is a very old process, and Zibibbo, though not the direct originator of Marsala derives from a formula known in the middle ages. Typically slightly lower in alcohol than Marsala (about 15% compared to 18 or 20%) and sometimes more robust.

Until the middle of 19th century the production of grapes was of marginal importance for the local economy. In the course of years, by improving techniques finally a high quality wine production was reached.
The cultivation techniques are of Arabic origin, and it demanded the construction of thousands of stone walls in order to create the farming terraces: at the end of summer you can see the grapes which are dried under the warm sun of the Mediterranean in order to produce an optimal raisin. Different wine styles even if all made by using the zibibbo grape, are remarkably different. The 'Moscato' wine of Pantelleria has got a dark yellow colour tending to amber and has a strong taste. The 'Passito' wine, has an amber colour, and a remarkably dense fragrance, sometimes like dried figs, candied fruits and dates.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ti Point 'Marlborough' Pinot Gris 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Gris

Growing Region: Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand

Owner/ Winemaker: Tracy Haslam

As many of you will know - wines made from Pinot Gris vary greatly and are dependent on the region and wine making style they are from. It's best not to generalize - but New Zealand Pinot Gris can be medium to full bodied wines with a rich, somewhat floral bouquet. While most Pinot Gris is made to be consumed early, Pinot Gris can age. With vine age - some are developing aromas of pear, apple, and green melon. Pinot Gris can be very easy to make and can be bottled and out onto the market within a very short time after fermentation.
For this particular Pinot Gris 85% of the wine was cool fermented in stainless steel, whilst the remaining 15% was fermented in three year old French oak barrels. After fermentation the barrels and tank were lees stirred once a week for four months. The two parcels were then skilfully blended and bottled.
In the glass you will be greeted by a pale straw colour. On the nose the wine shows notes of ripe apricots with subtle hints of rose petal. The wine has a generous creamy palate with a vibrant note of lime on the finish. Chill and serve at 8-10C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and over the next 2-3 years.

Perfect wine as a pre dinner aperitif or with seafood, light cuisine and young firm cheeses, enjoy.

Even though it can age, enjoy it now, why wait.


Alba wine region - Italy

Alba is a town and commune of Piedmont, Italy, in the province of Cuneo. It is considered the capital of the hilly area of Langhe, and is famous for its white truffle and wine production, as well as the confectionery group Ferrero is based in Alba. A very important center of wine, the area of Alba, there are 290 wineries that are harvesting an area of approx 700 hectares.

The wines of Alba are among the most renowned in Italy and are divided into:
DOC: Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo d'Alba, Roero and Verduno.
DOCG: Barbaresco, Barolo and Moscato.

Alba is a picturesque town in the heart of Piedmont - settled in pre-Roman times by Celtic and Ligurian tribes, in later years, it was at the centre of a never-ending tug of war that saw it pass from the Burgundians to the Lombards, Franks, and among various noble families of the region. Eventually being handed over to the family of Savoy, where it remained until the unification of Italy.


For wine lovers, the mythical hamlets of Barolo, Barbaresco and La Morra are places of legion. No matter where you go, you'll pass rolling vineyards and the small family estates that characterize winemaking in the hilly Langhe region.
A common complaint of Alba, and indeed of the entire Piedmont, is that there is so much food and wine, and too little time to sample it all. The rich, hearty food of the Piedmont is everywhere you look. Try dishes like gallo al Barolo (Rooster with Barolo wine), Brasato al Barolo and tortino di marroni con pera Madernassa al Roero (Roero-style chestnut pastry with Madernassa pear). For dessert, enjoy the candies made by Ferrero (i.e. Ferrero Rocher), who employs many local residents of Alba.
The best vineyards are planted atop southern-facing hilltops, where vines dig in deep to the clay, sand and limestone soils. A few international sized wineries like Fontanafredda are open to the general public a few hours each day, while the majority of the smaller wineries are only open by special appointment.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the summer series of winemaker interviews.

Glenn Thomas an oenology graduate of Roseworthy College, South Australia, has worked in McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley before moving to the Awatere Valley, New Zealand. In 1989 Glenn produced the Awatere Valley’s first Sauvignon Blanc. More recently Glenn joined Kiwi Oeno, a high profile winemaking consultancy with clients throughout New Zealand, Northern Italy and Southern France. Glenn is a truly global winemaker but his primary focus remains the Awatere Valley and his pivotal role at Tupari.


Tupari Wines is a small artisan wine producer located in the Awatere Valley sub-appellation of Marlborough in the South Island of New Zealand. Tupari takes its name from the dramatic cliffs forming the Upper Awatere Valley where the Turnbull family and pioneering winemaker Glenn Thomas have collaborated to create wines of distinction. The vineyard is situated on north-facing river flats overlooking the braided Awatere River. The carefully nurtured grapes allow Glenn to create sophisticated, elegant wines displaying arresting flavour intensity and finely honed structure and balance.
I still remember like it was yesterday when Glenn came up to Auckland to show his sole wine at the time - a Sauvignon Blanc that displayed more palate texture and personality than I had seen from New Zealand, with resonance with the Loire Valley hard not to compare in a complimentary way. It has been a pure pleasure to see the vines and the wines develop and mature each new vintage; there is now a Riesling, Pinot Gris and soon a Pinot Noir in the family.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
It was a long time ago! I was interested in the fermentation process after a science lesson at school. It grew from there and I made my own wine from fruit at home. I grew up in South Australia, which has a large wine industry, and provided opportunities for me.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
I studied winemaking at Roseworthy College in South Australia. I graduated in 1980.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
I like a range of varieties. I find I’m currently working on Pinot Noir a lot more. I find that a challenge - (an enjoyable one). The results can be worth the work, but it can be disappointing sometimes.


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
I like to work with new varieties, and Gruner Veltliner is new to Marlborough. I think we can make distinctive wine from this variety in our conditions.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
Hopefully fine weather. It’s a cliché now, but every vintage is different, and I look forward to seeing everything in the tank at the end of harvest and taste the wine we have made. It’s difficult in the rush of vintage to sit back and see what you have. I like the evaluation part at the end.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
There have been a few challenging vintages (rain or drought). None in particular stand out. They all have their challenges and rewards.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
David Hohnen was an influence. It was more about his attitude. He didn’t let things bother him, and he was confident in his decision making. He had vision as well.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
I would like to meet Eric Clapton to discuss the blues - (and hear him play).

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 have to bottle of vintage Champagne. Something to pop when I am eventually rescued.


If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
I really like Italy. They have a great attitude to food and wine, and make some wonderful wines.

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Make sure you study viticulture. A winemaker must understand how grape growing shapes the wines they are going to make. Most of all though, enjoy what you do. It is important to have a passion for wine, but have other things in your life as well. We need a balance.

If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
That’s a tough one. Either a professional photographer or a professional musician. I have a passion for music and photography.

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
I am really looking forward to our first Pinot Noir. I would like Tupari to grow some more, but we will always keep our quality driven philosophy, so we can’t be too big.

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

Monday, March 12, 2012

Waipara Hills 'Waipara Valley' Riesling 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Riesling

Growing Region: Waipara Valley, New Zealand

Chief Winemaker: Simon McGeorge

Another outstanding example of Riesling from Simon McGeorge - when some of us are lucky enough to have a sunny day, there is simply nothing more refreshing for the taste buds (in my opinion) than a glass of Riesling. Waipara Valley's gravelly soils and long autumn ripening conditions create the perfect scene for growing outstanding Riesling. The fruit for this wine was sourced from their 'Mound Vineyard' - where sheep casually graze amongst the vines during selected times of the year.
The vineyards under Waipara hills control are all accredited with 'Sustainable Winegrowing NZ'. The standards use best management practices to be environmentally and economically sustainable and guarantees quality assurance. After the harvest the pressed juice was naturally cold settled and racked before fermentation with a selection of yeast strains at cool temperatures 12-15C for approximately three weeks. With minimal interference and disturbance to retain all those naturally vibrant fresh characters the wine was blended and bottled.
So back to the wine in the glass - you will be greeted by inviting aromas of fresh cut apple, green melon, a touch of honeysuckle and fresh ginger - which all lead to a rich mouth filling palate. The wine has generous fruit flavours combined with crisp vibrant acidity provide a lingering and refreshing finish. Chill and serve at 8C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and over the next 2-3 years.

Perfect wine match with simply cooked shellfish cuisine, Asian dishes and young cheeses, enjoy.

A most refreshing glass of wine to enjoy this summer.


Touriga Franca

Touriga Franca (or Touriga Francesa) indigenous to Portugal, is one of the major red grape varieties used to produce Port wine. Touriga Franca is related to the Touriga Nacional vine, though more fragile. The wines these two varieties produce are similar in character, but Touriga Franca is of slightly lesser concentration and colour and shows more elegance. Not much is known about the origins, but it is thought to be a cross of Mourisco de Semente and Touriga Nacional.


In 2001 the very important and indigenous Touriga Francesa was renamed Touriga Franca. On many bottles and in many a trade publication it is still referred to as Touriga Francesa and that is the reason for some confusion still with Port lovers. Touriga Franca is quite similar to Touriga Nacional, needing harsh conditions to keep vigour down as it gets on the steep arid slopes of the Douro. Yields are medium (1.5kg/vine), not as low as Touriga Nacional.

In Portugal, Touriga Franca is the fifth most planted grape, with approx 7,440 hectares. It plays an important part in Port blends - at 21%, it is the most widely planted of the Port producing vines. Touriga Franca is prized for its ability to ripen early as well as the unique mix of fruit and wildflowers that it contributes to Port wines. Increasingly Touriga Franca can be found as a single varietal wine or as part of the blends of still, dry wines that are gaining momentum in the Douro Valley and in the Dao.
Of moderate vigour and low productivity, it thrives in the hot soils of the Douro Valley's lower, relatively fertile, slopes where it is protected from wind. Though the grapes are thick-skinned, the bunches are delicate, and the fruit may not mature fully in very dry years if planted in arid soils. Very high in tannin and extremely highly scented, it is an important contributor of structure and balance. It shows an intense perfume of fresh red fruit, earth and flowers, and its overt fruitiness is repeated on the palate, preserving a marked grape quality in the wine as it ages.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gisselbrecht 'Alsace' Pinot Gris 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Gris

Growing Region: Dambach, Alsace, France

Owner/ Winemaker: Claude Gisselbrecht

If you haven't been to Alsace - put it on your next to visit list when in France, as its history, cuisine and versatile wines are something not to be missed. Over several generations the Gisselbrecht family have a unique awareness of nature's fragile balance within their own vineyard sites. Throughout the year, the vineyard is protected, maintained and cultivated during its long process of maturation, culminating in the ultimate gratification: the grape harvest.
Harvest is a sight to behold, relying on age-old methods; picking is done by hand, ensuring the quality of the grapes through careful selection and handling back to the winery only a short distance from each site.
Viticulturist Philippe works to preserve the essence of the fruit, to retain the bright aromas and subtle fragrances of Pinot Gris. Their unique hands-on experience is the key of their identity as well as the necessary condition for creating inimitable compositions and the most astonishing wines.
In the glass the wine has a subtle golden hue; the aromas are full and lively, with complex aromas, floral and also white honey, and grilled almond with subtle fresh spices. The palate has a full bodied mouth feel, ripe summer fruits that linger long on the finish. Chill and serve at 8-10C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and over the next 2-3 years.

Perfect wine match with a wide array of seafood, Asian spiced cuisine and light Tapas, enjoy.

Simply a pleasure to share with friends.



Trebbiano is the second most widely planted grape in the world. Trebbiano enjoys the title of "Italy's most commonly planted white grape". There is no disagreement that Trebbiano is a native grape variety to Italy. Trebbiano (also known as Ugni Blanc) is also France's most widely-planted white vine, a phenomenon arising from its migrating to the southern Rhone when the Vatican moved the Papal seat to Avignon in 1305. Under the name 'St. Emilion,' Trebbiano is important in brandy production, being the most common grape variety of the Cognac and Armagnac.
An Italian study published in 2008 using DNA typing showed a close genetic relationship between Garganega with Trebbiano and several other grape varieties. It is therefore possible that Garganega is one of the parents of Trebbiano, however, since the parents of Garganega have not been identified, the exact nature of the relationship could not be conclusively established.


It is mentioned in more than 80 of Italy's DOCs, although it has just six of its own: Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, Trebbiano di Aprilia, Trebbiano di Arborea, Trebbiano di Capriano del Colle, Trebbiano di Romagna and Trebbiano Val Trebbia dei Colli Piacentini. Perhaps the most successful Trebbiano-based blend is the Orvieto whites of Umbria, which use a local clone called Procanico. Trebbiano is also used to produce balsamic vinegar.
Because it yields a wine of such neutrality, it is more often blended with other grapes, especially to bolster acidity. Notable among these are Soave, in which it is blended with Garganega; in Frascati, with Malvasia; in Verdicchio, with Verdicchio and Malvasia; in Orvieto, with Verdello and Grechetto; and with Malvasia in Vin Santo, a 'passito' in which the grapes are dried to a semi-raisin state and fermented to produce a sweet wine.
A classic Trebbiano table wine is crisp and refreshingly high in acidity. Typical tasting terms associated with the variety include references to citrus fruits, white floral notes (such as magnolia) and mineral components, depending on the terroir of origin.