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, August 27, 2012

Chakana 'Reserve' Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Growing Region:  Agrelo, Lujan de Cuyo - Mendoza, Argentina
Consultant Winemaker:  Alberto Antonini
If you have been searching for an early drinking, fruit forward, flavoursome, well balanced, food friendly Cabernet Sauvignon -  look no further than this honest, expression from Chakana. It has to be repeated that every bottle I have tried since working with this brand for several years now, have excited the taste buds of my friends and matched many a cuisine moment. The fruit for this wine comes from grapes grown on Chakana’s 150 hectare estate in Agrelo, Lujan de Cuyo - Mendoza at 960 metres above sea level.
The grapes for this wine were carefully hand harvested and taken to the winery. The fruit underwent two days of cold maceration on skins in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Fermentation took place for 12-14 days with selected yeasts at 26°-28°C combined with pigeage and delestage to enhance fruit extraction and soft tannins. The wine then underwent malolactic fermentation and was matured for 12 months in French oak barrels.
As you pour the wine into your glass, you will be greeted by a bright, rich red colour. On the nose, aromas of cherry and cassis with delicate notes of mint-chocolate. The palate is well structured and balanced oak with a persistent finish of red berries and bitter chocolate. Decant for 30-45 minutes and serve at 16°-18°C.
Drinking perfectly well this coming season; and over the next 4-5 years.
Perfect wine match with grilled red meats, flavoursome pasta dishes and hard cheeses, enjoy.
Layers of dark berries and soft tannins.

VSP Trellising

During the past two decades, advancements in vineyard design, trellis and training systems, and canopy management practices have dramatically improved wine grape productivity and fruit quality around the world. Prior to this, it was left to tradition and little attention was given to site-specific factors influencing vine vigour such as climate, growing region, soil type, and rootstock. Today significant effort is made to match vineyard design and trellis system to the site-specific factors that influence grape quality.

Vertical Shoot Positioned trellising (usually abbreviated as VSP) is designed to arrange shoots to grow upwards across guide wires. Usually four fruiting canes are trained to grow in opposite directions along two levels of wire. Fruit hangs approx 1m off the ground, and below the raft of vertically growing leaves.
The system is traditionally used where there is a high risk of fungus as the trellis keeps the foliage away from the ground and allows for good air circulation and light exposure. VSP offers many advantages over other trellis systems, including that it can be used with machine harvesters, all the fruit is grown in one zone, and it suits many grape varieties.
VSP is very common in cool climate regions, with low to moderate vigorous growth, as it encourages better air flow through the vine. This is accomplished by keeping all the shoots growing vertically, with no vegetative growth below the canes. The increase in air flow helps prevent problems associated with disease, allowing the fruiting area to dry out quicker after rains.  With proper canopy management, the fruit is healthier, but being exposed to the sun earlier in the season, encouraging grapes to ripen more evenly within the bunch.
The objective of VSP is to train the shoots in a vertical fashion, creating a narrow layer that provides good exposure to sunlight and air flow in the fruiting zone of the canopy. The shoots length can easily be controlled by careful pruning any vegetation over the top catch wire.


Wine in Brief:


Monday, August 20, 2012

Rimu Grove 'Nelson' Pinot Noir 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Moutere, Nelson, New Zealand

Owner / Chief Winemaker: Patrick Stowe

Patrick literally broke ground in Nelson, pulling out an orchard and planting a new vineyard called Rimu Grove back in 1995 on the point above the scenic Waimea Estuary. Patrick's search for the ultimate expression of 'terroir' is reflected in his wines: a synergy of Nelson sunshine, Moutere clay gravels, maritime microclimate and an incredible attention to detail.
A changeable cold and windy spring produced a variable set for the Pinot Noir resulting in 30-40% less crop. A warm and dry summer followed, allowing the fruit to be picked at optimal ripeness, with the Pinot Noir having great concentration.
The grapes were handpicked, 100% destemmed and allowed to soak on their skins prior to fermentation for 5-7 days. Fermented in small open-top fermentation vats, hand-plunged 3 times daily, then barrel aged in French oak for 10 months (24% being new oak). A blend of seven clones, all coming from the Rimu Grove Estate vineyards.
A rich garnet colour fills the glass. A beautifully ripe nose, showing complex dark cherry, dried spice, game and oak characters. The palate is concentrated and weighted beautifully with a velvety texture and well integrated acidity. The back palate in long and softly dry with plenty of fine-grained tannins that linger on the finish. Decant for 30-45 minutes and serve at 15-16°C.

Drinking perfectly well this season; and will age gracefully for another 3-4 years.

Perfect wine match with duck, game birds, rabbit, beef salad, and semi-soft cheeses, enjoy.

Showing subtle Burgundian nuances, with bright Nelson fruit.



Micro-oxygenation is a process used in winemaking to introduce a controlled amount of oxygen into wine. Developed by Patrick DuCournau in 1991, working with the exceptionally tannic grape Tannat in Madiran, France. The process began in winemaking following the 1996 authorization by the European Commission. Today the technique is widely employed in Bordeaux as well as in several different countries.
The purpose of micro-oxygenation is to bring about desirable changes in wine texture and aroma. The objectives include improved mouth-feel (body and texture), enhanced colour stability, increased oxidative stability, and decreased vegetative aroma. As treatment proceeds, one observes an increase of the aromatic intensity and palate complexity. The tannins become softer, the body of the wine is increased and a rounder mouth-feel.


The exposure of wine to oxygen in limited quantities can be beneficial - though too much oxygen can lead to oxidation and too little can lead to reduction and wine faults. In oak barrel aging, the natural properties of the wood allows for a gentle aeration of the wine to occur over a long period. This aids in the polymerization of tannin into larger molecules, which are perceived on the palate as softer. Micro-oxygenation aims to mimic the effects of slow barrel maturation in a shorter period and at a lower cost associated with barrels. It also enables more control, as opposed to barely observing it in an oak barrel.

The process of micro-oxygenation involves a large two chamber device with valves interconnected to a tank of oxygen. In the first chamber the oxygen is calibrated to match the volume of the wine. In the second chamber the oxygen is injected into the wine through a porous ceramic stone located at the bottom of the chamber. The dosage is controlled, ranging from 0.75 to 3 cubic cm/ liter of wine. The process normally occurs in multiple treatments during the early stages of fermentation (to help avoid stuck fermentation) - to a more prolonged treatment during maturation.

Weekly Wine Picks:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Katnook 'Founder's Block' Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Growing Region: Coonawarra, Australia

Chief Winemaker: Wayne Stehbens

Katnook 'Founder's Block' wines are named in honour of the original land holding of John Riddoch, the founder of Coonawarra. I quiet often find myself enjoying a bottle of Founder's Block with a varied range of dishes at home with friends, as it is so approachable for everyday drinking, designed to showcase the ripe fruit characters of Coonawarra. This is an honest wine, fruit driven, harmonious and true to its 'terroir' and grape varietal. The 2010 Coonawarra vintage will be remembered as one of the earliest and also for being amongst the best for many a year, producing excellent fruit quality, including this Cabernet Sauvignon.
A deep rich red fills your glass. On the nose, blackcurrant and plum aromas with dried spice and a subtle mint/chocolate note. The oak maturation consisted of approximately 15% of the wine being matured in a combination of French and American barriques, 30% of the oak was new, adding subtle characters of toast and spice to the fruit aromas. The intense palate is layered with flavours of berry fruits and balanced oak. Blackberries, dark plums and hints of cassis characters are complemented by classic Coonawarra mint-chocolate and the fine grained tannins finish off the wine nicely. This is a great go to wine for all occasions. Decant for 30-45 minutes and serve at 18°C.

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

Perfect wine match with and eye fillet steak with mushrooms, or a flavoursome pizza, enjoy.

92 pts - James Halliday, Wine Companion 2013.



Marsanne is a white wine grape - and is believed to have originated in the town of Marsanne, near Montélimar, in the Northern Rhône wine region of France. In Savoie the grape is known as grosse roussette. Outside France it is also grown in Switzerland (where it is known as ermitage blanc or just ermitage), Spain (where it is known as Marsana), and can also be found in Australia and the USA. Australia has proven to be a more suitable home than its native France - as 80% of the world’s Marsanne is now grown there.


It is a principal component of the white wines from the Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph AOCs. It is the most widely planted white wine grape in the Hermitage AOC, where it is often blended with Roussanne. Along with Roussanne, up to 15% of Marsanne can be added to the red wine of Hermitage under Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) regulations. In the Saint-Péray AOC, it is used for both still and sparkling wine production. In the Southern Rhone, Marsanne is not one of the white grapes permitted in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC. It is, however, one of the eight white grape varietals permitted in the Côtes du Rhône appellation. Although Marsanne is mostly made into a dry wine, some producers in the Rhône have also experimented with making a dessert-style straw wine.

Marsanne is prone to underperform in less than ideal sites. In climates that are too hot, the grape can over ripen and produce wine that is very flabby. In places that are too cool, the grape cannot ripen fully and produces wine with a bland and neutral in flavour. In order to maintain a high level of acidity, winemakers try to harvest Marsanne just before it hits full ripeness.
Marsanne can produce deeply coloured wines that are rich and nutty, with hints of spice, pear and mineral notes, where Australian Marsanne has aromas of melon, and honeysuckle. The wines can be high in alcohol and can be oak aged to develop more body and as the Marsanne wine ages, aromas of nuts and quince can also develop.


Weekly Wine Picks:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hewitson 'Ned & Henry's' Shiraz 2010

Grape Variety: 90% Shiraz, 10% Mourvèdre

Growing Region: Barossa Valley, Australia

Chief Winemaker: Dean Hewitson

Dean has access to some outstanding grapes, from vineyards grown on red soil over limestone, the classic 'terra-rossa' vineyards; provide the quality fruit for this Ned & Henry's Shiraz/ Mourvèdre. Traditionally grown, low cropping vines produce the rich flavours and tannins found in this wine.
After careful fermentation the wine was pressed into selected French barriques, where the wine also went through malolactic fermentation. The wine then matured in these same barrels for a total of about fifteen months before racking. While the base wine has always been Shiraz, each year Dean blends in a small proportion of Mourvèdre, which accentuates the fruit and adds another subtle layer of complexity.
In the glass you have a very deep red with a purple hue. The aroma is distinctive, with dark, ripe fruits and a dried herb and spice note from the Mourvèdre. The perfectly balanced French oak is a real treat. The flavours of dark-fruits and rich earthy characters are full and concentrated yet approachable. The palate is definitely full bodied, with a generous mouth feel with velvet tannins, and a long persistent finish. Decanter for 45-60 minutes and serve at 17C. *(Limited availability)

Drinking perfectly well this winter season; and will mature for another 6-7 years.

Perfect wine match with bbq's meats, spicy pizza or pasta and a good rich cheese, enjoy.

94 points, James Halliday, Wine Companion 2103.


Hermitage AOC

Hermitage is a small, but highly regarded French wine region (AOC) in the northern Rhône wine region - south of the city of Lyon. It produces mostly red wine from the Syrah grape; however, small quantities of white wine are also produced from Roussanne and Marsanne grapes. The hill is by some seen as the spiritual home of the Syrah grape variety.
Hermitage AOC being established in its modern form in 1937 - is known for classic Syrah wines that rival the best Cru Classes wines of Bordeaux. While the appellation allows for up to 15% of Marsanne and Roussanne to be added - the best wines are 100% Syrah which balance, power and weight with finesse and elegance.


According to legend, the Knight Gaspard de Stérimberg returned home wounded in 1224 from the Albigensian Crusade and was given permission by the Queen of France to build a small shelter to recover in, where he remained living as a hermit. The chapel on top was built in honor of Saint Christopher and today is owned by the negociant Paul Jaboulet Âiné.
During the 19th century wines from Bordeaux during poor vintages were often ‘hermitaged’ (blended with wine from Hermitage) and could fetch higher prices.
The appellation fans out from the town of Tain l'Hermitage. The vines grow on the south west side of a steep granite hill facing the afternoon sun and can be divided into a number of smaller vineyards. These are ‘Les Bessards’ to the west, ‘L'Hermite’ and ‘La Chapelle’ on the top of the hill, with 345 acres of vines in total, in soil composed greatly of granite and gravels, Hermitage produces 730,000 bottles of mostly red wines, annually.
Hermitage reds tend toward being very earthy, with aromas of leather, red berries, earth, and cocoa and coffee. Because of the high levels of tannin they are usually aged longer than or Australian or South American Syrah; and are often cellared up to 40 years. Rich, dry white wines are also produced from a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne. These wines are also usually left to age, for up to 15 years.