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, July 28, 2013

Kilikanoon 'Killerman's Run' Shiraz 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz
Growing Region: Clare Valley, Australia
Head Winemaker: Kevin Mitchell
Kilikanoon work with over 2,000 hectares of prime vineyards from selected sites throughout South Australia. They have chosen terroir to craft wines which express the individuality of their respective areas. Kevin and his team specialise in old vines with the oldest being nearly 150 years of age.
The vineyard from which the fruit for this wine was sourced gets is names from an old bushman Mr Killerman who lived alone in the bush land behind Kilikanoon wines Clare Valley cellar door. He lived off the land - trapping wild game, growing fruits and vegetables and as the story goes - making his own wines in a galvanised iron lean-to. As with previous vintages this 2011 Shiraz celebrates the spirit of one of the Clare Valley’s real characters.
The team work hard in the vineyards to ensure they achieve low yielding vines, producing quality grapes from premium vineyards selected across South Australian and then vinified by traditional winemaking methods and then matured in small French and American oak casks before careful blending and being bottling unfiltered.
In the glass you have a wine with a bright red colour and youthful hues. The nose clearly shows wild berry fruits, dark cherries and subtle hints of French oak notes round out the senses. The palate is elegant, yet texturally rewarding, bringing together the ripe dark fruit flavours with the fine French oak nuances and fine grained tannins, producing a complex and layered palate, giving the wine a full and persistent finish. Decant for 30-45 minutes and serve at 16-18°C.
Drinking perfectly well this season; and will age well for another 5-6 years.
Perfect wine match with roasted red meats, strong flavoured pasta dishes and seasoned pizzas, enjoy.
Old vine Shiraz, full of ripe fruit character.


Cinsault Grape

Cinsaut or Cinsault is an ancient red wine grape variety that is believed to have originated in the Hérault region of southern France, but could have been brought by traders from the eastern Mediterranean. The vine can produce heavy crops, but crafted wines are much better if yields are controlled. Cinsault is very drought resistant but can be susceptible to disease, so appreciates a dry climate - this heat tolerance and productivity make it important in Bandol and Languedoc-Roussillon southern French. It is also one of the most often planted varieties in Algeria and Morocco, and is a major red variety in Corsica, Lebanon, South Africa, and Tunisia. It can also be found scattered around Italy and Eastern Europe, also Australia has some Cinsault planted, although it has yet to achieve popularity there.

In South Africa the grape was originally known as ‘Hermitage’ - (slightly confusing, since the famed French Hermitage is completely Syrah). When a South African professor crossed Cinsault with Pinot Noir, he therefore named it Pinotage - now the country's signature red wine.
France has more Cinsault planted (50,000 hectares) than Cabernet Sauvignon and there is as much Cinsault vines planted in its former colony and wine region of Algeria. Cinsault is one of those varieties enjoyed by ‘grape-growers’ as it easily produces a very large crop of 6 to 10 tons per acre. Cinsaut can be over-cropped and used as a filler-grape - which can make it difficult for many wine critics to give it any respect. With cluster stems that easily detach from the vine, Cinsault adapts well to machine harvesting. It produces large cylindrical, tight bunches of black grapes with fairly thick skins. It is often blended with grapes such as Grenache and Carignan to add softness and bouquet.
When properly managed to a crop load of just 2 to 4 tons per acre, it can produce quite flavourful wines with penetrating aroma and soft tannins, and easily drinkable in its youth. Wine made from Cinsault grapes can be very aromatic with a supple texture that soothes the palate. Fairly low in tannin, it is often made into Rosé by itself or blended, to brighten the fruit and tone down the harsher edges of Carignan, in particular. Although officially sanctioned in Châteauneuf du Pape, it is used by only a few producers in their blends.

Wine in Brief:



Saturday, July 27, 2013

INDEX - Winery Visits

(Simply click on winery name to view article)

2013 - (July)

Piper & Charles Heidsieck - Reims / France

Domaine Laroche - Chablis / France

Cecchi Winery - Tuscany / Italy

Santa Margherita - Portogruaro / Italy

Pasqua Winery - Veneto / Italy



2012 - (June - July)

Château Routas - Provence / France
Cecchi - At the Heart of Tuscany / Italy

Tenuta dell'Ornellaia - Bolgheri / Italy

Florio Marsala - Sicily / Italy 



2011 - (July)
Valdespino -  Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
Osborne - El Puerto de Santa María, Spain
Quinta de La Rosa - Douro Valley, Portugal

Barros - Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal 



2010 - (July)
Paul Jaboulet Aine - Rhone Valley, France

Cecchi - Winery in the ‘Maremma’ Region, Italy

Pol Roger Champagne - Epernay, France
Gisselbrecht - Alsace, France


2009 - (June - July)
Riedel Stemware - Kufstein, Austria
Cecchi - Winery planted with Sagrantino - Umbria, Italy
Château Routas - Summer in Provence, France
Piper & Charles Heidsieck - Vin Clair Tasting - (with Regis Camus)

2008 - (September - October)
Laboure-Roi - Nuits Saint Georges, Burgundy, France
Domaine Jessiaume - Santenay, Burgundy, France
Pierre André - Burgundy, France

Freixenet - Cava, Penedès, Spain

2007 - (September - October)

Fontanafredda - King of Barolo -Piedmont, Italy

Ca’ del Bosco - Franciacorta - Italy
Pasqua - A Family Passion - Veneto, Italy
Cecchi - Tuscany

2006 - (September)
Château Cantenac-Brown - Bordeaux, France
Château La Lagune - Bordeaux, France
Château Gruaud Larose - (2nd Growth) - Bordeaux, France
Château Cos d'Estournel - St-Estèphe - Bordeaux, France

2005 - (September)
Château Miraval - Provence, France

Maison Louis Jadot - Beaune - Burgundy, France



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Kaesler Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Grape Variety: 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot
Growing Region: Barossa Valley, Australia
Chief Winemaker: Reid Bosward
I have a vivid memory of when I last visited the Kaesler vineyards - which cover some 92 hectares in the Barossa Valley, that the majority of the fruit for their wines is grown on some of the world’s oldest vines dating back to, 1893, 1899, 1930 and the 1960’s.
Though the fruit for this Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from their Matthew’s Block vineyard, planted in 1985. The team work extremely hard in the vineyards caring for these fragile old vines, with hand pruning, crop thinning where appropriate to reduce yields and maximise flavour. Each of the hand-picked parcels were fermented, aged and kept separate until the final blending.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was fermented in stainless steel then pressed and transferred to 20% new French oak. The wine developed in oak for 3 months and was then racked and returned for a further 17 months of conditioning in barrel and was neither fined nor filtered. A small injection of co-fermented Petit Verdot has giving the wine a unique twist to the finish.
In the glass the wine is the deepest red. On the nose, due to a slightly longer oak conditioning has imparted a sweet cigar box aroma, with subtle spices and earthy notes. On the palate the wine is packed with dark plums, blueberries combined with some of those earthy notes, integrated tannins and a solid oak structure giving the wine a long and firm finish. Decant for 45 minutes and serve at 17-18°C.
Drinking perfectly well this season; and will age well from another 5-6 years.
Perfect wine match with seasoned prime meats, roast beef, BBQ sausages and hard cheeses, enjoy.
Intense and lingering Cabernet characters.

Powdery Mildew on Grapes

Powdery mildew, also known as oidium, is caused by the fungus Erysiphe necator or (Uncinula necator). It is the most common and widespread disease of grapevines, with popular wine grape varieties varying in susceptibility to powdery mildew.
Powdery mildew symptoms can be seen on foliage, fruit, flower parts and vine canes. Powdery mildew usually appears as white powdery patches on the undersides of basal leaves. It may cause mottling or distortion of severely infected leaves, as well as leaf curling and withering. Lateral shoots are very susceptible, though grape berries are most susceptible to infection during the first 3-4 weeks after flavouring, infected berries may split and dry up or never ripen. Shoots, petioles and other cluster parts are susceptible all season, with old infections appearing as reddish brown areas on dormant canes.

Early powdery mildew infections can cause reduced berry size and reduced sugar content - so it is important to be aware of powdery mildew and its management as the resulting disease can significantly reduce crop yields. Most winemakers have a very low tolerance for powdery mildew on grapes, as some research has shown that infection levels as low as 3% can taint the wine and give off-flavours.
Once the ideal weather conditions occur - the white patches of powdery mildew produce millions of spores (conidia) which are spread by wind to cause more infections. Moisture is not the key concern - as the temperature is the most important environmental factor. The disease spreads quickly in early summer when temperatures are mild. The incubation time (the time between infection and the production of spores) can be as short as 5 to 6 days under optimal temperatures. Shaded and sheltered locations favour mildew development, as high temperatures and sunlight inhibit powdery mildew. Extended periods of hot weather above 32°C will slow the reproductive rate of grape powdery mildew, as well as reduce spore germination and infection.
Good fungicide control early in the growing season to prevent establishment of the disease is the key to preventing a powdery mildew outbreak later in the summer. Depending upon weather conditions, spraying every 10 to 14 days maybe required until grapes complete veraison. Post-harvest sprays to control powdery mildew are also beneficial.

Wine in Brief:



Friday, July 19, 2013

Piper & Charles Heidsieck - "building on success"

Since my first visit to France back in 1990 - I have had a special connection with all things French. I still remember like it was yesterday driving into Champagne and seeing all those gentle slopes covered with closely planted, low vines as far as you could see.  Even though it was not my first time in Reims or at Piper & Charles Heidsieck - this didn’t reduce my anticipation and excitement as I drove from Provins (a small medieval town) located a short distance to the south of Champagne.
It doesn’t matter from which direction you arrive at Piper & Charles Heidsieck - as soon as you see that iconic architectural structure designed by Jacques Ferrier in 2008, it sets the scene for something special.
It was a pleasure to be greeted by a familiar face and an old friend Catherine Curie (the international brand ambassador for both Champagne houses) on my arrival. As we commented - it seemed like such a short time since we had enjoyed a glass of Champagne in New Zealand just the year before, plus both Catherine and I had been part of a most memorial ‘vin-clair’ tasting with Regis Camus back in 2009 - where has the time gone.
As a new and young generation now enjoy Piper Heidsieck around the world and they relate to the haut-couture design and the promotional activity in magazine, cinemas, TV and gift packaging - and even more importantly enjoying the most exciting styles of Champagne on the market crafted by - arguably the most awarded and talented Champagne maker in the world Regis Camus - who has just received the ‘Winemaker of the year’ trophy at the International Wine Challenge in the UK for the 8th time.
Though it must be remembered that Piper-Heidsieck was founded by Florens-Louis Heidsieck back in 1785 in Reims, and is one the oldest Champagne houses. The Heidsieck name was combined with the Piper name back in 1838. In 1985, Piper-Heidsieck became part of the Rémy Cointreau wine and spirits group, and more recently in 2011 it was bought by the EPI (Européenne de Participation Industrielle), a privately owned company of French luxury brands, headed by Christopher Descours.

The first part of the day I spent with Thibaut Chaillon - the 'Chef de Marque' for Piper Heidsieck. We caught up with the new brand activities for both the trade and the general public around the world. Then it wouldn’t be a visit to Piper and Charles Heidsieck - without tasting the latest blends from Thierry and Regis. After a stimulating Champagne tasting that engaged the taste buds and stimulated the stomach juices it was time to enjoy a spot of lunch at the latest Champagne Bar / Restaurant to open in Reims - ‘Le Bouillon Des Halles’. On such a stunning, hot and sunny day - it was inevitable that we share a bottle of Piper Rosé Sauvage NV, plus a few other local wines to match the courses.
After a outstanding experience and some of the best table service I have enjoyed in any town or country - it was time to make our way back to the office to sit down with Stephen Leroux, (the new Director of Champagne at Charles Heidsieck). Stephen was the marketing director at Bollinger from 2007 to 2011, and has just recently joined as the director of Charles Heidsieck.

Charles Heidsieck Champagne founded in 1851 by Charles Camille Heidsieck - (who lived from 1820-1871) was a 19th-century French Champagne merchant. Charles is credited with popularizing Champagne in the United States and was known as "Champagne Charlie". One of the most dramatic of events that Charles was a part of during his short but dynamic life – was that during the American Civil War - Heidsieck was imprisoned under suspicion of being a spy for the French government and the Confederacy. His imprisonment sparked an international incident between France and US over what became known as ‘The Heidsieck Incident’.
It was a wonderful and insightful meeting with Stephen - as he unraveled and revealed the immense amount of work and creative genius of one of the most successful market re-branding of Charles Heidsieck. The re-branding and re-focused positioning has been rolled out in half a dozen countries so far around the world - with New Zealand being one of the more recent launches - and the market has been waiting with anticipation for the new packaging and the ‘new’ Brut NV blend to arrive.

With reluctance I had to leave and make my way back to Provins - but as I had done on several occasions on this years wine tour - I made another promise to myself to return as soon as possible.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Domaine Laroche - Pure Chablis

It had been well over due to make my way back to Chablis and visit Domaine Laroche. After a leisurely drive from Provins across to Chablis and along the gentle slopes that are home to the Grand Cru vineyards I found my way to the winery and offices of Laroche.
The name and the wines of Domaine Laroche are virtually synonymous with Chablis. For more than 160 years, the Laroche family has been dedicated to producing top quality wines from the Chablis region. The history of Laroche in Chablis dates back to 1850, when Jean Victor Laroche purchased his first parcel of land. In 1967, Michel Laroche the fifth generation, joined his father Henri in the family business at the age of 21. Convinced of the appellation’s potential for high-quality wines, over the next 20 years Michel expanded the companies land holdings, taking their six hectares in 1967 to nearly 100 hectares today of prime Chablis vineyards. 


Domaine Laroche vineyards are spread across the entire region, including 6 hectares of Grands crus, 29.66 hectares of Premiers crus, 63.02 hectares of Chablis, plus 2.25 hectares of Petit Chablis. Michel passionately believes that the best wine can only be made using the finest grapes. His approach to viticulture is to create optimal conditions to achieve top quality fruit - purity and typicity being the heart of the Domaine Laroche philosophy.
Grégory Viennois, the new technical director at Laroche, along with his team, shares this view, working in tune with nature, encouraging low yields and natural ecology in order to produce fruit that is true to its vineyard origins.
The gentlest methods are used in the winery to protect the fruit’s natural characters and maintain the purest expressions of each vineyard site. Fermentation is usually carried out in stainless-steel tanks at 15° to 18°C, except for the premiers and grands cru wines, which are partly fermented in 225-liter barrels in order to impart delicate oak flavour and additional oxygen. Also part of Michel’s goal to retain purity and minerality in his wines, he was the first Burgundian producer, back in 2001, to change to screw-cap closures, even for his grand cru wine.

In 1985, Michel bought L’Obédiencerie, a former monastery in the village of Chablis in which monks had made the first wines in Chablis as early as the ninth century. In this historic Chablis monument, which itself represents a part of the history of this prestigious vineyard region, he installed a series of magnificent aging cellars and his offices. At Domaine Laroche one of their main efforts concentrates on continuing to improve quality through controlled yields, the installation of modern, high-performance equipment, and the work of a skilled and dedicated team both in the vineyards and in the winery.
Chardonnay can be a vigorous variety that can require careful fruit-quantity control. Exceptional vine diversity is preserved through Domaine Laroche’s massal selection. Massal selection is the visual selection and propagation of robust vines which are believed to have a diverse genetic base.


The aromatic diversity coming from their older vines explains the wide range of aromas displayed in Domaine Laroche wines. In order to achieve this complexity, grapes are tasted before harvesting to control the level of ‘aromatic ripeness’ that appears after the physiological ripeness is measured in the laboratory.
To help better understand these subtle difference and complex characters - I had the opportunity to be guided through a range of these diverse and dynamic Chablis wines, which included the; Saint Martin 2012, Les Vaudevey 1er Cru 2009, Les Beauroys 1er Cru 2009, Fourchaumes VV 1er Cru 2009, Les Bouguerots Grand Cru 2009 (which was a rare treat) and finishing off in style with the Les Blanchots Grand Cru 2008. Just as a conductor brings out the best in a finely tuned orchestra - so does the team at Domaine Laroche achieve the same sublime sensory experience with each parcel and the finished crafted wine.
The grapes that come from their premiers and grands crus vineyards are sorted by hand at the entrance of the winery. Low-pressure pneumatic wine presses are used to respect and maintain the quality of the grapes. The juice is usually cleared between 12 and 24 hours to separate the largest particles that may compromise the wine’s purity.

Fine particles, however, are retained, as they can feed the wine during winemaking and add additional flavour complexity to the wines. Grégory believes that minerality potential relies on dry extract more than acidity, so great attention is paid to fine lees during aging. The Petit Chablis and Chablis are typically bottled in April, while the Premiers and Grands Crus are given 11 to 14 months to reach their full maturation. I have already made a promise to myself - not to leave it so long before returning to both Chablis and to this simply outstanding winery and team of people.