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.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Geoff Merrill ‘McLaren Vale' Shiraz 2008

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz

Growing Region: McLaren Vale, Australia

Owner / Chief Winemaker: Geoff Merrill

The 2008 vintage was a testing growing season for the whole region - and will be remembered for the incredible heat wave that affected South Australia and the challenges related with it. The season began well, but once the heat wave struck, extra attention was required in the vineyard by all the team. Early ripening varieties were actually in excellent condition and Geoff and his team have produced many exciting wines from this vintage.
A few vineyard sites selected for this wine were affected by the heat wave - and ripened much fast than expected, with some parcels being picked and processed with jammy and extremely ripe fruit flavours. Fortunately with all the effort in the vineyards these exciting, ripe parcels developed layers of intense flavour - enabling the team to craft an exciting wine from this season. With carefully selected harvesting decisions, each parcel of fruit underwent appropriate fermentation extracting good colour, ideal fruit flavours and spice characters - then the wine was transferred to American & French oak for 20 months of further development.
In the glass you have a deep red colour with a soft purple hue. On the nose the wine has typical McLaren Vale aromas showing dried spice, ripe berry fruits and savoury, smoky notes. The palate is tightly held together with solid tannins and acid structure with ripe dark fruit characters reflective of this vintage. The wine shows good balance, complexity, well integrated subtle oak and has a lingering, lively finish. Decant for 30-40 minutes and serve at 16-18°C.
Drinking perfectly well this coming season; and over the next 3-4 years.
Perfect wine match with seasoned red meats, spicy pizza and freshly made pasta dishes, enjoy.
Classic McLaren Vale spice.


McLaren Vale Wine Region

The McLaren Vale wine region is approximately 35km south of Adelaide City in South Australia - and is internationally renowned for the wines they craft. Although initially the region's main economic activity was growing cereal crops, John Reynell and Thomas Hardy planted grape vines in 1838 - and today the Seaview and Hardy wineries have been in operation since 1850. Grapes were first planted in the region in 1838 and some vines more than 150 years old are still producing. Today there are more than 500 registered grape growers, and approx 90 wine producers in McLaren Vale, with the majority being small family-run boutique wineries.

McLaren Vale has a Mediterranean climate with four distinct seasons - with a dry warm summer; the area has dry weather from December through to March or April, ideal for grape ripening, as it is gentle with long warm days and short cool nights. The region rarely experiences frost or drought due to its close proximity to the sea. The region is bounded to the south by the Sellicks Hill Range and to the west by the waters of Gulf St Vincent. The region extends east to the historic town of Clarendon and the area around the Mount Bold Reservoir and to the north to Reynella.
Famous for producing Shiraz, the grape is by far the most important variety for the region, accounting for about 50% of the total crush. The area's thin soils, limited water, and warm summers harness Shiraz’s natural vigour and produce intense flavoured fruit, and wine with a deep purple-red colour that can last decades. McLaren Vale wines are distinguished by their ripeness, elegance, structure, power and complexity. McLaren Vale has 3,800 hectares of Shiraz under vine. Other major varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon with 1,288ha planted, Chardonnay with 567ha planted and Grenache with 454ha - other varietals include Mourvèdre, Tempranillo, Viognier, Marsanne, Riesling, Merlot and Sangiovese.

Most vineyards are found on gently undulating land at about 100m above sea level - though there are a few vineyards rising to 320m. The McLaren area has many different soil types which contribute to the wines from the area having different terroir. The soils include fertile red-brown earths, terra rossa, rendzina, soft sands and dark cracking clays. Some soil types allow grapes to be dry-grown, with approximately 20% of the total crop dry-grown - which produce small berries, sought after for their intensity of flavour.

Wine in Brief:



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Taylors 'St Andrews' Shiraz 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz
Growing Region: Clare Valley, Australia
Chief Winemaker: Mitchell Taylor
For Taylors, the St Andrews range of wines is a testament to their winemaking philosophy and a showcase for their hand-crafted approach to winemaking. The first Taylors St. Andrews wines were released in 1999 and have developed a reputation as benchmark examples of great Clare Valley wine - only released in the finest vintages.
The growing season in 2009 was near perfect in the Clare Valley. The Shiraz fruit from their selected sites was exceptionally well balanced; showing rich, varietal fleshy fruit flavours, with the St Andrews vineyards yielded no more than 2.2 tonnes per acre.
Once harvested, the grapes for this wine were taken a short distance to the winery where they were gently de-stemmed to protect the vibrant fruit characters and minimise any extraction of harsh tannins. The fruit was then transferred to open barrels and inoculated with a special yeast strain for fermentation. The must was then hand-plunged twice daily to aid gentle extraction before being pressed and transferred back to the same oak barrels to undergo its secondary malolactic fermentation. After completing this stage the wine was racked off lees prior to final blending. The blended wine was then transferred to a mixture of fine-grained French and American oak barrels and matured for 12 months prior to filtering and bottling in March 2011.
In the glass you have a dark red colour with a deep crimson hue. The wine has earthy, complex and enticing aromas of chocolate-mocha intertwined with spice and rich, dark berry fruits. The palate is full and mouth filling, packed with rich fruit flavours and the oak characters are in absolute balance bringing structure and grace to the palate from start to finish. This is a generous yet elegant wine that showcases Clare Valley Shiraz at its best. Decant for 45-60 minutes and serve at 17-18°C.
Drinking perfectly well this winter season; and will age well for another 7-8 years.
Perfect wine match with wild game, seasoned, roast meats and spicy tapas, enjoy.
Clare Valley Shiraz in perfect balance.

Wines of Switzerland

The tradition of wine and viticulture in Switzerland dates back further than many would initially think. Switzerland has, in fact, been an abundant wine-producing region for hundreds and perhaps even thousands of years, with grape seeds dating back as far as 3000-BC having been unearthed in Neuchâtel. Around 200-BC Romans were cultivating grape vines for wine production in what are now the most common wine-producing regions of contemporary Switzerland. The holy pursuit of winemaking continued through the middle ages under the influence of Cistercian monks. Swiss wine is produced from nearly 15,000 hectares of vineyards, and the wines are mainly produced in the west and south of Switzerland, in the regions of Geneva, Neuchâtel, Ticino, Valais and Vaud. Red grape varieties account for 58% of the country's vineyard area, and white grapes varieties the remaining 42%.

Nearly all the wine production is consumed domestically; with less than 2% of their wine exported (mainly to Germany) - Switzerland ranks in the top 10 of wine consumption per capita. The two most common grape varieties in Switzerland are Pinot Noir at around 30% and the white Chasselas varietal at around 27%, others include Gamay at 10% and Merlot at 7%. A large number of grape varieties are cultivated in Switzerland, many of them indigenous or regional specialties, some 90 grape varieties in an area of 1ha or more.
For a long time, Switzerland lacked detailed national regulations regarding wine classification, which meant that it was up to local producers as to what they put on wine labels; no national wine-style appellation system was implemented, and as a non-EU member, Switzerland did not have to implement European Union wine regulations. Wines were usually labeled by their village of origin, by grape variety, or using a brand name. From the early 1990s, a French-style AOC system was started to be implemented, though these regulations are mainly implemented by the regions themselves.
In recent decades, Switzerland has become an increasingly important player in viticulture, and with good reason. Switzerland’s latitude, lying between 45 - 47 degrees places it well with the recognized wine production areas of Burgundy and Bordeaux, which lie within this range. Despite the generally high altitude, the better wine-growing regions receive so much sunshine annually (up to 2,500 hours in some years), and such moderate temperatures between day and night, that certain varieties of grapes thrive even up to an altitude of over 1000 meters.

Wine in Brief:



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Torbreck 'Woodcutter's' Shiraz 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz
Growing Region: Barossa Valley, Australia
Chief Winemaker: David Powell
As Torbreck enthusiasts will be aware - ‘Woodcutter’s’ the name of this Shiraz comes from David Powell’s time spent working in the Scottish Highlands as a lumberjack in the Torbreck forest. This wine as with previous expressions gives you an insight into the younger Shiraz vineyards of the Barossa that Dave has natured back to life. Also it is slightly more approachable in its youth - than some of the more hardened old vines which make up the core of his other cuvee’s. Although this wine is constantly praised for being succulent and rich - perhaps the best feature of this wine is its complexity and texture which are rarely found at this price.
The fruit for this wine is sourced across the north-western region of Barossa Valley from dry grown, bush vines, from hand harvested and hand tended unique sites that include - Marananga, Greenock, Ebenezer, Gomersal, Moppa, Lyndoch and Kalimna.
The fruit was fermented in a combination of their cement, wooden and stainless steel vats for 6-7 days and then basket pressed into well seasoned hogsheads and French oak foudres for 12 months. Then it was bottled without the use of either fining or filtration.
In the glass you are greeted by a dense, rich and opulent dark red wine. On the nose this wine shows ripe dark berries, spice and earthy notes. The combination of great fruit purity mixed with texture, complexity and finesse gives the palate real presence. All of these elements create a wine that is elegant, structured and powerful and is a fantastic introduction to the Torbreck interpretation of old bush vine Shiraz. The finish is rich, full and lingers with a balanced persistence. Whilst offering immense pleasure in its youth the 2011 Woodcutter’s Shiraz if opened in the near future would appreciate being decanted for approx 45-60 minutes, then serve at 16-18°C.
Drinking well this season; and will age gracefully for another 5-7 years.
Perfect wine match with grilled and well seasoned red meats, spicy pizza, tapas and aged hard cheeses, enjoy.
One of the world’s best value Shiraz wines.



Xinomavro is the main and most noble indigenous red grape varietal of northern Greece. Its name (meaning 'acid-black') - reveals its basic features: high in acidity (Xino = sour), deep, black in colour (mavro = black), with powerful tannins. This combination of high acidity and phenolic richness results in wines with the possibility to age for many years, sometimes decades.
The area where Xinomavro is grown contains four O.P.A.P. (Onomasia Proelefseos Anoteras Piotitas) - or the regions of origin of the highest quality wines (equivalent of French AOP): Naoussa - (the oldest and first region in Greece that has the right to use this name, plus here the grape can achieve perfect maturation), along with Goumenissa, Amyntaion and Rapsani. Besides the quality red wines, some rosés and sparkling wine are produced in these regions.


Xinomavro is most often compared to Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo as it matches many of their characters, as it is not easy to grow or to work with, in the winery and make into wine. But if you treat it well, you get a wine of outstanding finesse, complexity and potential. Many winemakers choose to use cold skin contact maceration before fermentation - which helps to get more colour, without extracting astringent tannin, and then careful use of time and development in oak.
On the nose you can find complex aromas of dried plums, sun dried tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, truffles, leather, earthy notes, aromatic herbs and spices. It is not a wine to drink while young - you should try to enjoy Xinomavro when it is at least five years old, however they are at their most interesting after ten years of age. Xinomavro wines match very well with a wide array of dishes such as; bbq or spicy chicken or roast pork, rich lamb dishes, or where ripe tomato sauce is involved, these wines even match well with seared tuna.
It is an active variety, high yielding, robust and resistant to disease, but very sensitive to a lack of water. The grapes are of medium-size, spherical with a thick skin, white flesh and a characteristic colour of the skins ranging from dark red to nearly black. The variety has proven to have considerable potential in terms of aromas from fermentation and aging, but also to have well-balanced sugar, acid and tannin levels. During the 12 month aging in oak barrels as determined by the relevant legislation, develops a layered palate and a rich bouquet - this also softens its tannins that give the wine its good structure and richness and wines with great aging potential.

Wine in Brief:



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Stonyridge ‘Larose’ 2010

Grape Varieties: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Petit Verdot, 17% Malbec, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Carmenère
Growing Region: Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Owner / Chief Winemaker: Stephen White
Since the first vines were planted at Stonyridge Vineyard back in 1982 - every decision made has been with the sole intention of crafting a world-class wine from the famous Bordeaux red grapes. This classic Cabernet-dominant blend is named ‘Larose’ as a tribute to the rose, which can be found at the end of several rows near the winery.
The vineyard aspect has a gentle north-facing slope, with the vines being sheltered from cold southwesterly winds by the ridge which gives the vineyard its name. Combined with these ideal conditions and excellent ‘organic’ viticulture, the grapes have achieved perfect ripeness.
Yields at Stonyridge can be as low as 2 tonnes per acre, with the grapes being hand-picked and immediately taken a short distance to the winery. Fermentation was followed by a 2 week maceration period before being basket-pressed, with malolactic fermentation being completed in barrel. The wine was aged 12 months in 100% French barrels, 60% new oak and the rest 1 year old, racked regularly, rarely fined and never filtered.
Larose is blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Petit Verdot, 17% Malbec, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Carmenère. A deep garnet-purple colour fills the glass; the nose displays pronounced notes of warm black forest berries, black cherry jam, cassis, spice, cedar, mocha and cigar box.
Though full bodied, currently it is still tightly knit in the mouth; it has a solid structure and firm, fine-grained tannins supporting the intense fruit. The secondary spice characters of clove and thyme are layered with leather and a hint of freshly roasted dark coffee. The oak is integrated, balanced and supports the fruit skillfully. The persistence on the palate is impressive and goes on forever. The 'Larose' 2010 is an absolute powerhouse, which while impressive at this early stage, will only get better over the coming years. Decant carefully for 2 hours, and serve at 18°C.
Drinking well this season with decanting; though it would appreciate another 10 years.
Perfect wine match with aged sirloin, venison, ostrich with simple seasoning or a wine jus, enjoy.
One of the world’s iconic red wines.

Bergerac Wine Region.

The Bergerac wine region is a sub-region of Bordeaux, South West France, and is located around the town of Bergerac in the Dordogne district, and includes 93 communes. Its boundaries correspond more or less with those of the districts of Bergerac and it is located directly east of the Bordeaux wine region. 1,200 wine-growers work in an area of approx 12,000 hectares and the region contains 13 Appellations d'origine contrôlées - AOCs, for red, white (dry, medium-sweet and sweet), and rosé wines.
The Bergerac area has produced wines for centuries, though began exporting seriously since 1254, when it began shipping its vintages to England based on special privileges granted by Henry III of England. By the fourteenth century, Bergerac had strictly defined quality standards for its wine growing areas. Despite Bergerac's special privileges, during this period, Bordeaux was known to use its position, down river and near the mouth of the Garonne River, to give its own wines priority over barrels of Bergerac wines being transported on river barges. The wine-growers decided to change their strategy and concentrate on producing dry white and sweet dessert wines, which were sought by the English, Dutch and other markets.
In the 20th century, when the boundaries of the Bordeaux wine-growing area were being drawn up, it was decided they should match those of the Gironde district. Bergerac wines, which had long been sold under the generic name, Bordeaux, had to build a new and separate identity.
The local soils vary in thickness and soil type - with sands and clays mixed with gravel and calcareous source rock in one area and brown soil containing calcareous pebbles offering ideal drainage. These are the same soils to be found in the wine-growing areas of the east Gironde, such as Saint-Émilion, Côtes de Castillon and Côtes de Franc.
The red wines are a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and sometimes with Côt added - they are often dark in colour, with full-bodied flavours. The white wines are mainly a blend of Sémillon with Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle, with Ugni Blanc and Chenin Blanc sometimes added. These combinations lead to the creation of fruity, dry white wines that can be full, and of medium-sweet or sweet wines that are aromatic and rich.

Wine in Brief:



Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cecchi ‘Riserva di Famiglia’ Chianti Classico DOCG 2009

Grape Variety: 90% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino
Growing Region: Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy
Chief Winemaker: Andrea Cecchi
I have mentioned before - that a bottle of wine is like a time machine, able to take you back to that time and place where you first experienced a wonderful memory - and this wine reminds me so vividly of my visits to Tuscany, enjoying authentic - richly flavoured cuisine in small, hill top towns.
The 'Riserva di Famiglia' (Family Reserve) is certainly Cecchi’s most terroir expressive wine and one not to be missed. The Riserva di Famiglia reflects the Cecchi family’s deep connection and knowledge of the historic Chianti Classico area and represents a special cuvee that is produced in only the best years. The vines are situated in the heart of Chianti in the Castellina area in Chianti Classico, some 250 meters above sea level, creating the perfect environment for the rich, ripe fruit to develop and then carefully harvested at the optimum condition.
After careful fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 21 days, the wine was aged in oak for a minimum of 2 years, 12 months of which was spent in small oak barriques, then with bottle aging for 3 months before labelling.
A brilliant and intense red fills the glass. The wine has a full and persistent bouquet, characterized by ripe fruits, spice and smoky oak notes. On the palate, the wine delivers concentrated black fruit flavours and has an elegant structure with supple tannins. The wine expresses a serious palate, complex layers of dark fruits and spices give way to hints of earthiness and tobacco all entwined creating a full bodied wine, with a long and persistent finish. Decant for 45-60 minutes and serve at 17-18°C.
Drinking well this winter season; and will age well for another 5-7 years.
Perfect wine match with roast meats, wild game, rich pasta dishes and with aged, hard cheeses, enjoy.
A confident wine with an elegant structure.

Ontario Wine Region

Viticulture in Ontario, Canada is dynamically related to its terroir - to its sense of place. The physical features of the diverse landscapes and climate - influence the choice of viticultural practices across Ontario and create unique conditions for the production of grapes and wine.
Ontario has three primary viticultural areas or appellations of origin: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, and Prince Edward County. Within the Niagara Peninsula appellation, decades of grape growing experience and extensive geographical research has identified ten distinct growing areas. These sub-appellations include areas on the plains close to Lake Ontario and the benchlands of the Niagara Escarpment.

Ontario wine is made from 100% Ontario grapes that qualify for classification under Ontario's appellation system, the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA), depending on the varietal, the winemaking techniques employed and other restrictions.
Ontario is fortunate to be able to grow many recognized wine grapes, with widespread plantings of Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The local conditions support great strength in varieties that are traditionally grown in moderate climates and set the stage for balanced, complex and elegant wines. The majority of all wines produced in Ontario are dry table wines, made from over 40 grape varieties. As a cool climate region, the wines present a fruit character that is expressive of the particular grape variety but also show an elegance in structure that comes from the balanced acidity and minerality that shows through.
Wine production is approximately 60% white wine varieties and 40% red. Other white grape varieties of note are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Vidal Blanc while reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay Noir, Syrah and Baco Noir. Baco Noir and Vidal Blanc are unique varieties, developed in North America and two of only eight such hybrid varieties allowed for production within the Ontario appellation system. Both have proven to produce fine wines, and in the case of Vidal Blanc, exceptional Ice-wine.
Ontario Ice-wine are iconic sweet wines - beginning in 1989, when an Ontario Ice-wine won top honours at a prestigious French wine competition, Ontario rapidly became a world leader in Ice-wine.  Dry Sparkling Wines, made in the traditional method with fermentation in the bottle, have emerged as a significant strength for Ontario. The cool climate conditions are extremely suitable to produce ideal characters in the traditional varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which thrive in all of the appellations.

Wine in Brief: