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, May 28, 2012

Marques de Caceres 'Crianza' 2008

Grape Variety: 85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha Tinta & Graciano

Growing Region: Rioja, Spain

Consultant Winemaker: Michel Rolland

Gold Medal - Monde Selection, Brussels 2011

Every time I hear the name Rioja, or in this case Crianza - I develop a large smile across my face and a flood of colourful aromas, tastes and memories take over my senses and thoughts. Just a few years ago, I had an unforgettable experience in this most prestigious and traditional of wine regions in northern Spain. Its reputation is based on the high quality and noticeably bold personality of its dynamic wines. Due to rigorous controls, as well as the high demands on quality carried out in the production of these wines, Rioja has the Denominacion de Origen Calificada seal of quality on their wines.
This Crianza, from Marques de Caceres will virtually dance on your taste-buds. In the glass the wine has a bright ruby-red colour with darker highlights. The wine is rich and full-bodied, made only in excellent vintages from hand-picked Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano grapes grown in Rioja Alta region. Aged for 12 months in a careful mix of French and American oak casks, this Marques de Caceres Crianza has aromas of spices, dark berry fruits and wild herbs. The palate is inviting and lively with a solid backbone of silky-smooth tannins, giving the wine a pleasant and persistent finish. Decant 1 hour before serving at 17C.

Drinking perfectly well this winter season; and will age nicely over the next 3-4 years.

Perfect wine match with grilled or roasted meats, paella, mushroom risotto, tapas and even a dark chocolate dessert, enjoy.

One of the most friendly and versatile of red wines.



The French wine classification system has been under serious review since early 2006, with a new system introduced in 2012. The new system consists of 3 categories rather than the previous 4, since there will be no category corresponding to VDQS from 2012.

The new categories:

Vin de France: a table wine category basically replacing Vin de Table, but allowing grape variety and vintage to be indicated on the label. Vignobles de France, which means 'Wines from France'. This designation incorporates all wines that do not fall into the other two categories and has no geographical indication at all. As wines can be blended from no specific area.

Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP): an intermediate category basically replacing Vin de Pays. Wine with Protected Geographical Indication - Wines will be made from: A specific region, selected grapes, limited yields, minimum and maximum alcohol content. While terroir still plays a key role with this designation, its central role has declined, due to reduced requirements.


Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP): the highest category basically replacing AOC wines. Wine with Protected Appellation of Origin. All of the stringent AOC requirements remain in place. The singular focus on terroir continues to be at the heart of this designation.
The largest changes will be in the Vin de France category, and to VDQS wines, which either need to qualify as AOP wines or be downgraded to an IGP category. For the previous AOC wines, the move to AOP will only mean minor changes to the details of the label, while the actual names of the appellations themselves will remain unchanged.
While no new wines will be marketed under the old designations from 2012, wine bottles already in the market place, will not be required to be re-labeled.

The AOP is to be adopted by all EU countries over the next few years. So, we may be talking about the Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) possibly becoming a Denominazione di Origine Protettivo (DOP) in the near future.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Taylors 'Jaraman' Shiraz 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: 60% Clare Valley & 40% McLaren Vale

Chief Winemaker: Adam Eggins

A balanced mix of both Clare Valley and McLaren Vale Shiraz fruit - the 2010 vintage was characterised by generally favourable growing conditions. Crops were balanced and the wines emerging from the red varieties were of a particularly high standard. The skins were very thick and dark with a good level of tannin.
After harvest the grapes were gently de-stemmed and transferred to stainless steel fermenters. A portion of the grapes were cold soaked for a few days to deliver increased fruit expression. The fruit was then fermented at a constant warm temperature using specific Shiraz yeast. The wine was then gently pressed to American oak hogshead barrels (10% new, and 80% 1-3 year old) for secondary, malolactic fermentation. After oak maturation, the wine was blended, fined, filtered and bottled in January 2012.
In the glass the wine has a deep red colour, with a vibrant purple hue to the edges. There are lifted aromas of dark berries along with ripe plums and spicy overtones of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove aromas. This is a rich, full-bodied wine with intense flavours of ripe plum and blackberry fruit, with attractive oak characters of mocha-coffee. The palate is well balanced with a silky, subtle texture to the mid-palate whilst the tannins are enjoyably chewy and the finish, long and persistent. Decant for 45mins and serve at 17C.

Approachable this winter season; but will aged well for the next 8-10 years.

Perfect wine match with venison, beef, grilled steak served with a wine sauce, enjoy.

A confident and expressive red wine.


Spätlese Wine

Spätlese (meaning: ‘late harvest’; plural form is Spätlesen) is a German wine term for a wine from fully ripe grapes, the lightest of the late harvest wines. Spätlese is a riper category than Kabinett in the Pradikatswein category of the German wine classification and is the lowest level of Pradikatswein in Austria, where Kabinett is classified differently.
In the German classification of ripeness, the grapes with the least amount of sugar are destined for Kabinett wines. Then you have; Spätlese, and then the riper Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and finally Eiswein. The grapes are picked at least 7 days after normal harvest, so they are riper and have a higher must weight. Because of the weather, waiting to pick the grapes later carries a risk of the crop being ruined by rain. However, in warm years and from good sites much of the harvest will reach Spätlese level.


The wines may be either sweet or dry (trocken); it is a level of ripeness that particularly suits rich dry wines from Riesling. At Auslese levels the alcohol levels may become very high in a dry wine leaving the wine unbalanced, making wines with some residual sweetness is preferable to many palates. However, most German wines are traditionally dry, and the amount of sugar is not the only note balancing a wine. Dry German wines can be very balanced and usually get higher reviews from German wine journalists than a comparable wine with more sugar. Many Spätlese wines will age well, especially those made from Riesling.
It is thought the beginning of Spätlese wines took place in the Rheingau winery Schloss Johannisberg in 1775, as for some reason, the courier sent out by the abbey at Fulda was delayed for 14 days. By the time the order finally arrived noble-rot had set in, but the harvest happened anyway, though no high hopes were placed on the wine from the rotten grapes. The wine turned out to be surprisingly good. Schloss Johannisberg began actively seeking to produce late harvest - Spätlese - wines affected by botrytis.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Paul Jaboulet 'Parallele 45' 2009

Grape Variety: 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah

Growing Region: Rhone Valley, France

Chief Winemaker: Caroline Frey

Jaboulet Parallele 45 is the Cotes du Rhone wine that built the reputation of the Rhone as the region producing the greatest values in fine French wine. This wine takes its name from the 45th North parallel which runs 2kms from the cellars of Paul Jaboulet - their wine has had this name since the early 1950s. The Jaboulet P45 competes with other red wines from France, Italy, Spain and the 'new world' and justifies its reputation as France's greatest value red wine year after year.
Jaboulet Parallele 45 is a blend of Grenache and Syrah from vines averaging 30 years old. Sourced from sustainable vineyards throughout the Rhone valley - after hand harvesting, the grapes arrive at the winery and are sorted and vinified in stainless steel tank for 3 to 4 weeks to extract colour, character and flavour, followed by 3-6 months developing in tank before bottling. Their aim is to retain freshness and balance while producing a full flavoured and food friendly wine.
In the glass the wine has rich colour with an attractive brilliance. The 2009 Parallele 45 is a fresh, berry fruit driven red with loads of soft, ripe plum and blackberry flavours mingling with herbs, white pepper and spice. The palate has a good mouth feel with well-structured, rounded tannins, balancing the forward fruits and giving the wine a pleasing finish. Decant for 20mins and serve at 17C.

Drinking perfectly well this season, and will age for another 2-3 years.

Perfect wine match with BBQ meats, a wide range of pasta dishes, pizza and hard cheeses, enjoy.

One of the world's most respected, early drinking red wines.


Vegan friendly wines.

Vegan approved wines are increasingly talked about, though these wines often don’t include this information on the label. Many of people are unaware that wine, although made from grapes, may have been made using animal-derived products. During the winemaking process, wine is filtered through substances called ‘fining agents’. This process is used to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, off-flavours and colourings, and other organic particles which are in suspension during the making of the wine. A fining agent is added to the top of the vat, as it sinks down, the particles adhere to the agent, and are carried out of suspension.
None of the fining agent remains in the finished product sold in the bottle, and not all wines are fined. Winemakers are not required to put on their label which clarifier is used, since it is removed from the final product. Some winemakers also let the wine's sediments settle naturally, a time-consuming process. However, some wine makers will state on the wine label that their wine is unfiltered, because some wine connoisseurs prefer wine to be unfiltered.


Finding wine that has not been filtered with animal products can be difficult. The most accurate way to find out if a wine is acceptable for a ‘vegan-diet’ is to contact the winery and ask specifically what is used in the fining process for each wine.
Examples of animal products used in fining are gelatin, isinglass, chitosan, casein and egg albumen. Of these, casein and albumen (deriving from milk protein and egg white respectively) would be acceptable for vegetarians, but not for vegans. As an alternative to animal products, Bentonite, a clay mineral, can be used to clarify the wine. There are several fining agents that are animal-friendly and used to make vegan approved wine. Carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel, and vegetable plaques are alternatives.
Wineries clearly point out that once a wine has been fully fermented and bottled, only microscopic trace elements of these agents are left, but to many vegans this is not a comfort. The good news is that labels are increasingly becoming more detailed and specific about the fining and filtering agents used. To put it in some perspective, if a person was to buy vegetables grown in soil outdoors, they would be exposed to more animal and insect residue than in a bottle wine.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.

Pedro Sá is the chief oenologist of Sogevinus Fine Wines for Kopke and the other recognised Porto wine brands of the group which include Barros, Burmester and Cálem - joining the company in 2000.


Sogevinus is the Port and table wine group owned by Spanish bank Caixanova (based in Galicia). Established in 1998, it began with the purchase of Port house Cálem, and then followed the acquisition of Burmester (2005), Kopke (2006) and Barros (2006). Sogevinus own two quintas in the Douro. Arnozelo is in the Douro Superior next to Vargellas and has 100 hectares of grade 'A' vineyards. Sao Luíz is close to Pinhão in the Cima Corgo and has 90 hectares of vines. Altogether, this is a reasonably sized operation, selling approx 12.5 million bottles in 2009, with a 90 /10 split between Port wine and table wine (the table wine project began here in 2002, with the first wines released in 2004).
I had an unforgettable visit and tasting experience with the team at Sogevinus in Oporto at their cellars and head-office last year in July 2011. Then the following day I made my way by train up the Douro Valley into the heart of the Port region to climb the breathtaking terraces of their Barros vineyards.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
Portugal has a very old tradition in producing wine. Nowadays the whole country has wine production and it would be almost impossible not to be influenced and attracted by this industry.
I became a wine appreciator because of my father and grandfather. They always liked to drink good wine (especially Port Wine).
As a child, I had the opportunity of helping my grandfather doing the harvest (since he was also a small wine producer) and I found the experience fantastic. The pleasure of picking the grapes and of transforming them into a product that could be perpetuated and appreciated by different people is also a very satisfying feeling.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro University, from 1994 until 1999. I was indeed very lucky since I had the opportunity of studying in the heart of the most beautiful wine region worldwide: the Douro Valley… which is also the Oldest Demarcated Wine Region in the world.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
I'm not a particular supporter of working just one single varietal. This is the greatest richness of the Douro, where we can find an infinite number of grape varieties.


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
There are several grape varieties that I would - maybe Sauvignon Blanc. This grape is also a component of other famous dessert wines like Sauternes and Barsac and I would like to have the chance of working with it in the Douro Valley.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
With every vintage, we are worried the most in trying to respect the intrinsic characteristics of each micro-region or vineyard. We want that the grapes suffer as little as possible from human manipulation. In my opinion, the most interesting and seductive thing after a harvest is the surprise effect when you taste the wine for the first time. Of course, throughout this process, we always try to do our best so that we can present a very good wine. In my opinion, we must be vigilant and not just wine handlers.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
In the last few years, 2007 was indeed the most challenging vintage for our team. It was a year with many difficulties in terms of vineyard, the weather was very irregular and inconsistent but in the end the wine proved to be one of the best vintages in the last 10 years.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
It would be unfair to mention just one person. I found many people who helped me a lot in my journey of knowledge acquisition and they were inspirational during this period. I am talking about family, teachers or even co-workers.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
I would like to meet Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. The football is my second passion…

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
A bottle of Barros Colheita 1937. Just wonderful…


If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
I wish I could experience several wine regions, but I will mention just two: Ice Wine (in Canada) due to the weather difficulties which require a lot of attention and effort from the winemaker and the Tokay Region, since the wine culture is very similar to the Port Wine one.
What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
I would advise him (or her) to visit different wine regions around the word. This would be indeed the first step so that he/she can then begin his/her own path.

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

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
I wish that port wine will always be seen as a world-class wine around the world. Naturally, the environmental concerns, sustainability and energy resources will have a crucial role in the design of the wines in the future. I would like also that the regulation concerning the protection of the origin appellation played a more important role in the defense of the authenticity and value of several unique wines.

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


Monday, May 7, 2012

Cecchi 'Riserva di Famiglia' Chianti Classico DOCG 2008

Grape Variety: 90% Sangiovese, 10% other red grape varieties

Growing Region: Castellina in Chianti Classico, Italy

Chief Winemaker: Andrea Cecchi

As this wine was decanting on the dining room table, watching the herb crusted loin fillet slowly braze on the BBQ and as I placed some flat mushrooms on the grill. All I could think about was being in Tuscany, as there are few crafted wines so authentically matched with meat dishes than Italian red wine.
The Chianti Classico Riserva di Famiglia (Family Reserve) is certainly Cecchi's most terroir representative wine and one not to be missed. Produced only in years when the grapes reach the quality for a Chianti Classico Riserva, this wine comes from the Castellina area in Chianti Classico.
Sangiovese is the predominant grape of this wine and is seamlessly accompanied by other indigenous red grapes. Fermentation took place for approx 18 days in small capacity stainless steel tanks specifically made for the winery. The ageing is slightly more traditional taking place for 14 months in a mix of oak barrels and in French barriques. This is followed, as required by the DOCG regulations, by a period of 3 months refinement in the bottle.
In the glass the colour has an excellent clarity, with a ruby red hue. The aroma is full and substantial showing notes of ripe dark fruits, wild spices and toasty oak. On the palate, the wine has good structure, concentration and elegance with a persistent finish. Decant for 30-45mins and serve at

Drinking well this season; and will age for another 5-6 years.

Perfect wine match with prime meats, game and roasted dishes with wild herbs and wine jus, enjoy.

Tuscany and tradition in a bottle.



In the late 20th century, a new style of wine known as 'Ripasso' (meaning: re-passed, re-ferment) emerged with more frequency. This unique winemaking technique utilises the pomace of leftover grape skins and seeds from the fermentation of 'Recioto' and 'Amarone' - which are added to the batch of Valpolicella wines for a period of extended maceration.
The Valpolicella wine made during the current vintage is saved, and placed on top of the pressed grape skins and other particulate residue in the vats just used and allowed to ferment further with the skins and other grape residue, thereby acquiring additional flavour and body. This process, which can last from 2 to 3 weeks, adds colour, tannins, complex flavours and palate texture.


The additional food source for the remaining fermenting yeasts helps boost the alcohol level and body of the wines while also leaching additional glycerin and some phenolic compounds that contribute to a wine's complexity and length. As the production of Amarone has increased in the 21st century, so too has the occurrence of 'ripasso' style wines appearing in the wine market, with most Amarone producers also producing a 'ripasso' as a type of 'second wine'. An alternative method is to use partially dried grapes, instead of leftover pomace, which contain less bitter tannins and even more phenolic compounds.

One of the most well known Valpolicella producers to commercially market a 'ripasso' wine is the Pasqua family. When the style first became popular in the late 20th century, it was rarely noted on the wine label. There was also debate about whether it was even permitted to be included under DOC regulations. If it was mentioned at all it was relegated to the back label wine description notes.
Today the term 'ripasso' is freely permitted to be used, with several examples on the wine market labeled as being made in the 'ripasso' style. Then in late 2007, 'Ripasso della Valpolicella' received its own DOC designation.