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, April 30, 2012

Kaesler 'Stonehorse' Shiraz 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: Barossa Valley, Australia

Chief Winemaker: Reid Bosward

I look forward to winter for many reasons, and opening a generous, fruit driven bottle of Stonehorse Shiraz just makes my taste buds smile even more. This wine as with most of Reid's wines is crafted to make styles that emphasise fruit characteristics with complementary barrel development. The time in oak is designed to support and add structure to the palate without compromising the approachability of the wine in its youth.
This wine was fermented at a temperature between 22-24C in stainless steel tanks and then transferred to mixture of some new and older oak barrels. After alcoholic fermentation, it also underwent complete malolactic fermentation. It was racked post MLF, and then returned to barrel, where it matured for 12 months. The average age of the oak barrels was about 3 years old. This has resulted in a hint of oak through the wine but still allowing the fruit to dominate. A blend of 5 different vineyards also gives this wine more personality than first greets the senses.
In the glass don't be afraid from the inky bright crimson with a dark centre and a youthful edge that looks to overflow in your wine glass. On the nose you will be confidently welcomed with black cherries, dark fruits of the forest and hints of cassis & spice. On the palate the wine is full bodied with a supple mouth feel. Dark berry characters, spice box and liquorice mingle on the palate continuing onto a long and persistent finish. Decant for 30-40mins and serve at 17°C.

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

Perfect wine match with roasted lamb, wild pork, meat stews and rich cheeses - enjoy.

As with the winemaker, generous in its personality.


D.O. Wine System - Spain

Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and later revised in 1970. The system shares similarities with the hierarchical Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC). As of 2011, Spain has 120 identifiable wine regions under some form of geographical classification. In addition there is Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa or DOQ in Catalan) status for DOs that have a consistent track record for quality.
There are currently three DOCa / DOQ regions: Rioja, Priorat and Ribera del Duero. Each DO has a Consejo Regulador, which acts as a governing control body that enforces the DO regulations and standards involving viticultural and winemaking. These regulations govern everything from the types of grapes that are permitted to be planted, maximum yields that can be harvested; the minimum length of time that the wine must be aged and what information is required on the wine label. Wineries that are seeking to have their wine sold under DO or DOC status must submit their wines to the Consejo Regulador laboratory and tasting panel for testing and evaluation. Wines that have been granted DO/DOC status will feature the regional stamp of the Consejo Regulador on the label.


Following Spain's acceptance into the European Union, Spanish wine laws were brought in line to be more consistent with other European wine systems. One development was a five-tier classification system that is administered by each independent region. Non-independent areas or wine regions whose boundaries overlap with other independent communities (such as Cava, Rioja and Jumilla) are administered by the Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origen (INDO) based in Madrid.

The 5-tier classifications include:
Vino de Mesa (VdM) - These are wines that are the equivalent of most country's table wines and are made from unclassified vineyards or grapes.
Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT) - This level is similar to France's vin de pays system.
Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD) - This level is similar to France's Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) system and is considered a stepping stone towards DO status.
Denominación de Origen (DO) - In 2005, nearly two thirds of the total vineyard area in Spain was within the boundaries a DO region.
Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa / DOQ) - This designation, which is similar to Italy's Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) Rioja was the first region afforded this designation in 1991 and was followed by Priorat in 2003 and Ribera del Duero in 2008.
Additionally there is the Denominación de Pago (DO de Pago) designation for individual single-estates with an international reputation. As of 2009, there were 9 estates with this status.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.

Stonyridge is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed red wine producers, located on the beautiful island of Waiheke, near Auckland city. Founded by Stephen White in 1982, when he returned to New Zealand after competing in the Whitbread Round the World yacht race to embark upon another great challenge of establishing a vineyard. The first vintage was in 1985 - then 2 years later he produced the great 1987 Larose Bordeaux blend that rocketed Stonyridge to international recognition and was claimed as the greatest red wine yet made in New Zealand.


This unique vineyard is six hectares planted north-facing under the Stonyridge ridge line (hence the name) on poor, low-fertility Waitemata clay. This special microclimate is farmed organically and for nearly 30 years Steve has been listening to his land and this, combined with his meticulous hands-on approach, ensures that the vineyards’ personality shines in these unique terroir wines.

Stonyridge crafts a range of outstanding wines: the flagship wine being the Larose Bordeaux blend, Luna Negra Malbec, the Pilgrim GSM and the little brother of Larose, being the Airfield. These are world class wines of substance, depth and longevity which are available in limited quantities for select international wine markets. Stonyridge Larose is regarded as New Zealand's best red wine. It has beaten top Bordeaux wines in international tastings and only a select few New Zealand red wines can compete in good years, but struggle to equal it for vintage-to-vintage quality. I have had the pleasure of enjoying Stonyridge 'Larose' for over 20 years, plus knowing Steve for many years now and being involved with setting up and running the infamous vertical tasting of 18 vintages of his ‘Larose’ in February 2011.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I studied horticulture at Lincoln College, University of Canterbury and we had a botany lecturer called Dr David Jackson. His contagious personal passion was viticulture and winemaking which rubbed off on me. I spent my vacations working with David in the University Vineyard. It was an exciting time, Marlborough was being planted, and Otago had been discovered. David taught us that the search was on for other areas too; and that great wines were made in the vineyard.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
I completed my two year diploma in Horticulture at Lincoln and did part of National Diploma in Horticulture so I am really trained as a viticulturist. My winemaking learning took place in the small family wineries of coastal Tuscany, the wineries of Santa Ynez Valley in California and at Chateau d’Angludet and Prieure Lichine in Cantenac-Margaux in Bordeaux.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
The Bordeaux red varieties... they work so well together... Cabernet Sauvignon the king... racy berry characters, big tannic back bone and can be magic with age but they are all great, and just like a team, when one is weak the others are strong. The Bordeaux blend is phenomenal here at Stonyridge.
The Rhone blend varieties, particularly Syrah and Mourvèdre.... lots of fun to work with here on Waiheke Island and completely different to deal with in the vineyard and winery… another wonderful opportunity to blend and create 1+1 equals 3.

Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
Sauvignon Blanc... nah just joking.


With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
A vintage is both a creative time and also like a military operation. You have to have good generals, well maintained equipment, a well trained army, a great vineyard and great tactics. Many winemakers get exhausted, panic and make mistakes in difficult vintages.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
2012....amazing!  It started out as the wettest summer we have ever had and we developed all sorts of physiological and disease pressure in the vineyard. But we kept calm, kept maintaining a tight viticultural program and tightened our management program. Then at Easter the weather cleared we had a host of sunny days over 30 degrees. We have now picked 90% of the crop at some of the highest Brix ever and outstanding flavours!

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
Peter Sichel of Chateau Palmer and d’Angludet, Prof Emile Peynaud, Dr Richard Smart and my old buddy Hatsch Kalberer of Fromm.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Mahatma Gandhi, Krishnamacharya and the Dalai Lama together.... to talk about karma and dharma.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you – what would it be and why?
Chateau Cos d’Estournel 2005 and Scarlett Johansson... because it’s her favourite wine.

If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
Somewhere near Nice in the South of France… I’ve got some great friends there and I love sailing in the Mediterranean.


What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Travel and work, travel and work, travel and work, learn language, cooking recipes and study regional winegrowing techniques.

If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
A Yoga instructor on super yachts... I do this anyway but great wines, yoga and sailing are my great loves.

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
Cabernet blends are back! After a global move to Merlot (damaged by the movies Sideways), then Pinot, then Syrah wine lovers are coming back to the Bordeaux blend! Chardonnay is also coming back fast.
As for Stonyridge we are always adjusting and changing the blend to improve Larose. We are delighted that our top three wines Larose Cabernet blend; Pilgrim Rhone blend and Luna Hillside Malbec are regarded as some of the finest in their categories. The Larose recently came first equal in a huge 387 wine Cabernet tasting in Australia’s Winestate magazine......ahead of Chateau Latour, Ch. Mouton & Ch. Lafite.

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

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pasqua 'Villa Borghetti' Valpolicella DOC 2010

Grape Variety: 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone

Growing Region: Valpolicella, Italy

Winemaker: Giovanni Nordera

I've had the pleasure to visit this part of the world on two occasions, and each time I look try another local dish - and its then that the heritage behind this wine becomes clear and your palate can enjoy the subtleties in this wine. The fruit is sourced from their Villa Borghetti Estate, located between the village of Marano and Valgatara, at the heart of the Valpolicella Classico region.
Crafted from indigenous red grapes: Corvina, Rondinella and Corvinone, all grown to ripeness before being harvested and taken back to the wonderful facility and winery. As with all of the wines made by Pasqua - tradition is never lost and married well with modern winemaking at the cellars of Villa Borghetti. The grapes were macerated on their skins for 10 -12 days. During fermentation, the fruit underwent pumping over several times to encourage extraction of polyphenols and tannins, with the wine going through malolactic fermentation at the end. After filtration, the wine was placed in oak barriques where it aged for between 3-6 months, before final tasting, assembled and then bottled, where it rested in bottle for approximately 3-6 months before release.
In the glass you will be greeted by a vibrant ruby-red colour, with lively fresh aromas of currants and wild cherries and hints of spice and vanilla. On the palate all of these ripe berries and oak notes have integrated nicely to give a well balanced wine, with good mouth feel and a long, tasty finish. Decant for 20-30 minutes and serve at 16-18°C.

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

Perfect wine match with fresh rich pasta dishes, duck, veal, stews and hard cheeses - enjoy.

Very approachable, with a rounded personality.




Barolo is a 'DOCG' red wine produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. Made from the Nebbiolo grape and is often described as one of Italy's greatest red wines. The zone of production extends into the communes of Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba and parts of the communes of Cherasco, Diano d'Alba, Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Monforte d'Alba, Novello, Roddi, Verduno, all in the province of Cuneo, south-west of Alba. Only vineyards planted in primarily calcareous-clay soils in the hills with suitable slopes and orientations are considered suitable for Barolo production.
The present day Barolo zone is nearly 3 times the size of the nearby Barbaresco; it is still relatively small and is only 8km at its widest point. In addition to restrictions on yield and alcohol levels, to be labeled DOCG, a Barolo must have at least two years aging in oak and at least one year aging in the bottle prior to release. For wines labeled Barolo 'Riserva', five years of total aging is required with at least three of those years in oak.


In the past Barolos often used to be very rich on tannin, taking more than 10 years for the wine to soften up and become ready for drinking. In order to appeal to more modern international palates, which prefer fruitier, earlier drinking red wine styles; several producers have cut fermentation times and age the wine in new French barriques (small oak barrels). Traditionalists have argued that the wines produced in this way are not recognizable as Barolo and taste more of new oak than of wine.
Barolos tend to be rich, deeply concentrated full bodied red wines with pronounced tannins and acidity. Barolos have the potential for a wide range of complex and exotic aromas with charred oak and roses being common notes. Other aromas associated with Barolos include chocolate, dried fruit, plum, eucalyptus, leather, liquorice, dinner-mint, mulberries, spice, wild strawberries, tobacco, white truffles as well as dried and fresh herbs.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.

1999 was the first vintage at Pol Roger vinified by Dominique Petit, formerly of Krug, where he worked for over 20 years. This experience and craftsmanship has brought a controlled sense of power and concentration to these new Cuvee’s. Though an important character that has not been reduced is the supreme elegance and harmony for which Pol Roger is famous, the wine demonstrating an almost symphonic elegance due to the extended time in their most sought after cellars.


Chef de Caves Dominique Petit believes that great Champagne is all about the fruit. Pol Roger owns over 85 hectares of vineyards, which supply some 50% of the fruit required for annual production of nearly 1.8 million bottles. Careful attention in the vineyard is matched by meticulous care in the winery and cellars. Four ‘remuageurs’ hand riddle an astonishing 50,000 to 60,000 bottles per day in Pol Roger’s vast network of chalk cellars underneath rue de Champagne in Epernay.
Since Dominique Petit joined Pol Roger, more than 9 million Euros has been invested in upgrading the winemaking facilities, and is continuing in key areas. When I last visited Pol Roger in 2010, there was an amazing energy around the company and a great deal of activity, with new custom-made cold settling and fermentation tanks being installed, six new tiny 2200L tanks, and the old concrete tanks being upgraded, the cellar extended and the cellar floors concreted to reduce vibrations.
Dominique Petit is regarded as one of the most articulate winemakers in Champagne and he has been an excellent addition to the family, continuing the high standards set by Pol Roger over the past 160 years and to craft sophisticated though elegant Champagnes from the sites they work with in the future.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I come from a family of winemakers; so I discovered winemaking at an early age – though it was at the age of 16 that I naturally chose to do studies to become a winemaker.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
Oenology studies were made at:
Beaune Wine College in 1970/1971
The Wine College of Avize from 1971 to 1973
Then finally at the Faculty of Science in Reims from 1973 to 1977

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
These grape varieties would be Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.
These are the three Champagne grape varieties I work with; I cannot separate or rank them, because they each have their own unique quality, and their interest in our assemblages.


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
It would be Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; removing the Pinot Meunier grapes more rustic notes with aromas that may be much less interesting with global warming (which would be valid for Meunier in Champagne)

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
There is an expectation: during the tastings, the wines are a discovery, namely those that are maturing and we try to foresee their conditions?

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
The 1979 vintage was the first vintage of my professional career. Maturity was spectacular with a purity that was extraordinarily beautiful. The wines were all without exception wonderful, and the few remaining examples in the cellars are still the same.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
Professor Michel Feuillat was undoubtedly the person who most influenced us as winemakers (I say us - because my colleagues at the time have all done well). Michel Feuillat, a great wine and great science teacher knew how to discover the different ways of winemaking that might arise (depending on the case) when we were students.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
I would have liked to meet one of the forerunners of wine who practiced this science before the word was invented. We owe them all the foundations of wine that are always true, and we must not forget that the means at their disposal were rudimentary. I will name ‘Pasteur’, keeping a thought for Francois, Maumene, Chaptal and others.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
Champagne ‘of course’ rather a magnum: by nature, a bottle of Champagne to be enjoyed in full after it opened, which would thus require to keep it until help arrives, with the further advantage of keeping the morale maintaining the hope of their arrival (to be recovered or the magnum?: no answer).


If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
I think in Chile; because I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country, most of the natural barriers to pests and diseases formed by the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, provide a culture of more 'rational'.
This could also be New Zealand or Australia, but I have not had a chance to visit, so I don’t have a preference as yet for this part of the world.

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
I would advise them to enjoy the offering available to be "young" - to discover the most from French wine regions and foreign, that is offered by internships and contracts that are proposed by winemaking.

If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
I have always seen myself as a winemaker - my core business because I'm from a winemaking family, time spent on a modest farm. This is a tough job physically - though wonderful rewarding for anyone who are dedicated.

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
I do not want to see dramatic changes in our wines or styles. Though, it is likely that global warming will force growers and winemakers to adapt precisely to preserve the style of wines, and this will be their challenge. For example, in the first place, there will certainly be a need to manage a harvest hot and there you must choose the appropriate means to limit the minimum impact on the wines and their styles.

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Geoff Merrill McLaren Vale / Coonawarra Cabernet 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Growing Region: 75% McLaren Vale, 25% Coonawarra, Australia

Owner/ Chief Winemaker: Geoff Merrill

If you have never opened a bottle of Geoff Merrill wine, you are in for a treat. For those in the know, and who have been trying to keep Geoff's wines for themselves, I apologize again for spreading the word. But these wines are simply too enjoyable not to share with good food and friends.
The 2007 Vintage was affected by of one of the worst droughts the region has seen for a very long time. Yields were down dramatically, in some cases, so low they weren't even picked. Though the remaining fruit has extremely concentrated flavours relative to previous years, resulting in some interesting fruit flavours, solid tannin and palate structure. From a testing vintage - this is a dynamic and exciting wine. Geoff has given this wine as with every vintage, a great deal of care and attention during fermentation, then some good maturation of 23 months in American & French oak barrels.
Typical of the 2007 vintage, the colour has excellent depth and is a very dark red with hints of crimson and mahogany around the edge. The wonderful Cabernet aromas overflow from your glass. The blend of McLaren Vale and Coonawarra brings out the best in this Cabernet, showing choc-mint, violets, leather, and black olives with toasty vanilla, hazel nuts and oak characters. The palate is forward with tight with firm tannins, well balanced acid and the wine finishes on a clean lively fruit note. Decant for 20-30 mins and serve at 18C.

Drinking perfectly well this season; and over the coming 5-7 years.

Perfect wine match with a good cut of beef, pizza, pasta and hard cheeses, enjoy.

A truly honest expression of Cabernet Sauvignon.


American Oak Wine Barrels

The use of oak plays a major role in winemaking and can have a profound effect on the resulting wine, affecting the colour, flavour, tannin profile and texture of the wine.
The species of oak typically used for American oak barrels is the 'Quercus alba' a white oak species that is characterized by its fast growth, wide grain and lower tannins. Found in most of the Eastern United States as well as Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In Oregon the 'Quercus garryana' white oak has started to gain usage due to its closer similarities to European barrels.
American oak tends to be more intensely flavoured than French oak with more sweet and vanilla overtones due to American oak having 2 to 4 times as many lactones. Winemakers choose American oak typically for bold, powerful reds, base wines for 'assemblage', or for warm climate Chardonnays. Another major difference between American and French oak comes from the preparation of the wood. The tighter grain and less watertight nature of French oak allow coopers to split the wood along the grain, and then seasoned for 24 to 48 months in the open air.


Even though American coopers may use a kiln-dry method to season the oak, almost all others will season American oak in exactly the same way as French. Open air seasoning has the advantage of leaching undesirable chemical components and bitter tannins, mellowing the oak in a manner that kiln-dry methods are incapable of replicating.
Since French oak must be split, only 20-25% of the tree is utilized - American oak may be sawn, which makes it at least twice as economical. It's more pronounced oxidation and a quicker release of aromas help wines to lose their astringency and harshness faster; making it the oak of choice for shorter maturations; 6-10 months. Because of American oak's modest tannin contribution, the perfect first fill is a wine with abundant tannins and good texture; it allows the fruit to interact harmoniously with the wood, contributing to an array of complex aromas and soft, drinkable tannins.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.

Aurelio Montes - chairman and head winemaker with over 25 years experience at the Undurraga and San Pedro wineries in Chile. It was back in 1987 that Aurelio realised Chilean wineries were not aiming for quality. They were happy to make average wine to sell for an average price. Aurelio knew that the future was to craft high-quality wines.


Staring out was very tough, having to work day and night, consulting all over Chile for several years. Aurelio’s support from his wife and five children, plus his unweaving determination and persistence paid off. Now years on having extensively travelled - In 1995, his colleagues granted him the "Chilean Winemaker of the Year" award. The SNA (National Agriculture Association) named him "Personality of the Year 2002”, an honour directly bestowed by the President of Chile. He has been a Wine Consultant for Fundación Chile (a Foundation created by ITT and the Chilean Government), for Casa Lapostolle, Echeverría, Santa Inés, San Carlos, Pisco Capel, amongst others. Aurelio Montes is widely renowned by the international wine trade and publications as one of the finest winemakers not only in Chile, but the world. Aurelio’s leadership brought a revolution to quality standards and his insight to discovering the affluent Apalta and Marchigüe valleys.

I have known and enjoyed working with 'Montes' wines for over 20 years - sharing the journey and the vision Aurelio has to deliver to each and every one of his wine enthusiasts worldwide, the satisfaction engaged in tasting a first class Chilean wine, true to its terroir and a dramatic sensory experience.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I discovered Eonology while I was studying Agronomy at the Catholic University in Santiago de Chile. I thought it was so appealing - and here I am - still loyal to my love at first sight.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
It was in the ninety seventies, at the Catholic University in Santiago de Chile.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
Cabernet Sauvignon - it is a challenging variety, and the most elegant of all.


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
I love Syrah as a new challenge - it creates fruity wines, with lots of personality, and they are easy to drink and enjoy.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
To a long and dry summer so to achieve the perfect phenolic ripeness...

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
The 2002 vintage, as it was wet, cold and rainy, a real challenge for all of us to overcome...

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
My 5 years working with Michel Rolland as co-partners in Lapostolle operation in Chile.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Robert Mondavi - he was a great personality for the Californian wine industry.

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 be 'Purple Angel' 2005 from Montes. It was one of the best years - a wine with elegance and power.


If you could make wine anywhere else in the world – where would it be and why?
In Portugal - great local grape varieties - great terroir and unbeatable landscape...

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Work, work and more work.

If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
I would be an actor - it is my unfulfilled dream.

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
Find new ‘terroirs’ in this blessed land called Chile.

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

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chakana 'Estate' Malbec 2011

Grape Variety: 90% Malbec, 10% blend of 3 other red grapes

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

Consultant Winemaker: Alberto Antonini

Even if you think you know very little about wine, as soon as you see this wine being poured into your glass and hints of dark fruits start to reach your nose; your senses prepare you for an inviting and very drinkable red wine, which will please all your friends. I have enjoyed this style and 'estate label' Malbec from Chakana for a few years now - and this wine has always been honest, approachable and well balanced for an early drinking style of red wine. The entire Chakana 'estate' range offers a variety of youthful, friendly wines, each having a short period of ageing in oak. This wine, like previous vintages has been carefully crafted by Alberto to be enjoyed within a few years of release.
Predominately Malbec, the fruit was handpicked and sourced from 37 year old vines and younger vines grown in Mendoza. Picked at optimal ripeness, this wine went through 48 hours of cold maceration to extract primary colour and natural soft tannins, then 12 days of fermentation at 26-28C, to extract the deep purple colours that fill the glass. Post fermentation 50% of the wine had 3 months development in French oak.
On the nose the wine reveals vibrant aromas of ripe plums, wild strawberries, cherry and toasted spice. The wine has an elegant palate, with soft, velvety tannins and a refreshing fruit driven finish. The subtle touches of spice come from the wine being aged for three months in used French oak. Serve 16-18C.

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

Perfect wine match with tapas, grilled meats, pizza and hard cheeses, enjoy.

Pour a good sized glass and share with good food and friends.


Irrigation in Viticulture

The function of irrigation in viticulture is considered both controversial and essential to wine production. In the physiology of the grapevine, the amount of available water affects photosynthesis, shoot growth and grape development. While climate and humidity play important roles, a typical grape vine needs 635-890mm of water a year, mainly during the spring and summer months of the growing season to avoid excessive stress. Not receiving necessary water, the vine will have its growth and grape quality affected in several ways.

In many Old World wine regions, natural rainfall is the only source for water allowed to ensure the vineyard retains its 'terroir' characteristics. The use of irrigation is viewed by some as manipulative with the potential for poor wine quality due to high yields that can be increased with irrigation. Historically it has been banned by the European Union's wine laws, though in recent year's countries such as Spain has been relaxing their regulations and France's wine authority have also been reviewing the issue.


In dry regions that have little rainfall, irrigation is considered essential to any viticultural success. Many New World wine regions such as Australia and New Zealand regularly apply irrigation. Advances and research in these wine regions (as well as some Old World wine regions), have shown that wine quality can improve where irrigation is carefully managed.

The principle behind controlled irrigation is to ensure the vine receives sufficient water during the budding and flowering period, then scaled back during the ripening period where the grape vine directs more of its limited resources into developing the grape bunches instead of foliage. If the vine experiences too much water stress, photosynthesis and other processes can be impacted with the vine potentially shutting down. The availability of irrigation means that in drought conditions, sufficient water can be provided so that the balance between water stress and grape development is kept at favourable levels.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Domaine Laroche 'St Martin' Chablis 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay

Growing Region: Chablis, France

Owner: Michel Laroche

Domaine Laroche is proud to honour the patron Saint Martin of Chablis. From 877 to 887AD, the remains of Saint Martin rest in the crypt of l'Obediencerie (head office of Domain Laroche), which is situated a stone's throw from the church of Chablis.
The 2009 Chablis Saint Martin is a cuvee made from various vineyards in Chablis owned by the Domaine, with the grapes being organically grown. Nothing but care and attention goes into making every Laroche wines. Whole bunches were gently pressed, the juice was then underwent 12 hours settling at 12 - 15C in specially designed wide tanks which accelerate the natural settling process, hence reducing the need for sulphur dioxide. Fermentation took 14 days at 17C in stainless steel tanks. 95% of the fermented juice underwent malolactic fermentation, then ageing for 8 months again in stainless steel. Then the wine was bottled with minimum 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 this elegant Chablis St Martin has a beautiful, transparent colour of golden green. To the nose, is vibrant and fresh with crisp green summer fruits. To the palate is bright, with classical mineral notes and hints of hazelnut and flint notes, giving the wine a long and intense mouth feel and a supple finish. Chill and serve at 8C.

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

Perfect wine match with oysters, scallops, stuffed crab, grilled fish risotto enjoy.

Classic Chablis with an elegant touch of style.


Vine Training

Vine training systems in viticulture are aimed primarily to assist in canopy management with finding the balance in enough foliage to assist photosynthesis without excessive shading that could delay grape ripening or promote grape diseases. Additional benefits of vine training systems can be to control potential yields and to aid mechanization of certain vineyard tasks such as pruning, irrigation, applying sprays as well as harvesting the grapes.
In deciding on what type of vine training system to use, winegrowers will consider the climate conditions of the vineyard where the amount of sunlight, humidity and wind could have a large impact on the exact benefits of the training system. For instance, while having a large spread out canopy such as what the ‘Geneva Double Curtain’ offers can promote a favourable leaf to fruit ratio for photosynthesis it offers very little wind protection. In places such as the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, strong prevailing winds such as ‘le mistral’ can take the fruit right off the vine so a more condensed, protective vine training system is desirable for vineyards there.


As one of the world's oldest cultivated crops, grapevines have been trained for several millennia. Ancient Egyptians and Phoenicians discovered that different training techniques could promote more abundant and fruitful yields.
The widespread study and utilization of various training systems began in the 1960s when many New World wine regions were developing their wine industry. Without the centuries of tradition that influenced Old world winemaking and viticulture, vine growers in areas like California, Australia and New Zealand conducted large scale research into how particular vine training systems impacted wine quality.
As research in this area continued into the 21st century, new vine training systems were developed that could be adapted to the desired wine making style the grapes were destined for as well as the labour needs and particular meso-climate of the vineyard.
As members of the Vitis family, grapevines are climbing plants that do not have their own natural support like trees. While grapevines have woody trunks, the weight of a vine's leafy canopy and grape bunches will often bring the vine's cordon or ‘arms’ down towards the ground unless it receives some form of support and training. In viticulture, grape growers want to avoid any part of the cordon from touching the ground because of the vine's natural tendency to send out shoots and take root in that area where the vine touches the ground.
Vines that are trained to have their ‘fruiting zone’ of grape bunches between waist to chest height are easier for vineyard workers to harvest without straining with excessive bending or reaching. Similarly, keeping the fruiting zone in a consistent spot on each vine makes it easier to set up machine harvesting.