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.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fontanafredda - King of Barolo

They say that good architecture is all about the people and the place - well wine and Fontanafredda is exactly that, a combination of the best things in life that come from this part of Italy. During my time based in the town of Alba, I was not short of culinary sensations to sample, match and enjoy with the vast selection of native grapes and wine styles from the region. Located in the heart of the Langhe Hills in the Piedmont wine-growing region of north-western Italy, is a world of hills dating back to ancient times which has always been a prime growing area for great wines, particularly rich, powerful indigenous reds.

Their vineyards lie at an altitude of between 200 and 400 metres. The texture of the mainly calcareous soils can differ within just a few dozen metres: at times loose, with a sand content approaching 50%; and other firmer soils with a higher proportion of silt, and above-all clay. The climate is continental, with wide seasonal variations in the temperatures, with the rainfall concentrated over the spring and autumn months - is highly variable, which is what produces such extraordinarily different vintages.

        

Fontanafredda's vineyards stretch out over more than 100 hectares (250 acres) of hilly terrain in the villages of Serralunga d'Alba, Barolo and Diano d'Alba, at the heart of the time-honoured Piedmont that was instrumental in shaping not only the history of Italy itself, but also its most revered winemaking tradition.
Records state that “by order of 17 June 1858" an area of land approx. 54 hectares, was registered to the private estate of Victor Emmanuel II King of Sardinia. The land was subsequently acquired by ‘Count Emmanuel Guerrieri and his sister Maria Victoria’, the children of the King and Rosa Vercellana, who was actually accorded the title of Countess of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda.
The history of Fontanafredda as a wine-producing company did not, however, commence until 1878, when Emmanuel Guerrieri, Count of Mirafiori, dedicated his entrepreneurial skills to wine with passion and far-sightedness. His approach proved to be thoroughly modern, leading to the immediate implementation of innovative criteria focused on producing wines of quality, in particular Barolo.
Testimony to the estate’s noble past remains intact today - the hunting lodge, the extensive cellars, the vineyards - with the new guidance of Danilo Drocco (Technical Director and winemaker) the winery continues to experiment and move with the times in perfecting what nature and history have handed down. They currently export to 30 countries & produce approx 2.5 million bottles.

This unique ‘terrior’ is responsible for Italy's version of Bordeaux reds, the muscular, long-lived wines of Barolo and Barbera that are forged from the Nebbiolo grape. With regular ratings of 90+ points, it is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the greatest producers of one of the world's greatest wine styles.
While imposing nineteenth-century cellars house the reds for ageing, Fontanafredda also has the knowhow to bring out the very best of the white sparkling wines of the area. Their Moscato d'Asti, which is perfect with fruit desserts or Panetone, is intentionally a low alcohol, off-dry wine that turns a sunny afternoon into a relaxed evening. Plus the Dolcetto ‘little sweet one’ and Barbera wines we tasted were also very approachable, appealing wines that support the more serious Barolo’s.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Franciacorta

Franciacorta is an exciting sparkling wine from the Lombardy area in northern Italy with DOCG status produced from grapes grown within the boundaries of the territory of Franciacorta, on the hills of a series of villages to the south of Lake Iseo in the Province of Brescia. It was awarded DOC status in 1967; the designation also included red and white still wines. Since 1995 the DOCG classification has applied exclusively to sparkling wines. Called ‘Franzacurta’ since as far back as 1277 and then called Franciacorta not until 1957.

Franciacorta became the first DOC to specify that its sparkling wines must be made by ‘Metodo Classico’ or Méthode Traditionnelle. In 1990 the ‘Consorzio per la tutela del Franciacorta’ was formed, instigating codes of self-regulation with a gradual reduction of yields and removal of the use of Pinot Grigio, becoming the organisation considered responsible for the efficient elevation of sparkling Franciacorta to DOCG status in 1995. Since the 1st August 2003, Franciacorta has been the only Italian wine not required to state its DOCG appellation on the label, in the same manner that Champagne is allowed to exclude AOC from its labels.

      

The DOCG declared vineyards extend 2,200 hectares and the distribution of permitted grape varieties are 85% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Nero and 5% Pinot Bianco.
Franciacorta NV cannot be released until at least 25 months after harvest, of which 18 months must be in contact with the yeast in the bottle (compared to 15 months for Champagne). Franciacorta Vintage or Millesimato cannot be sold until at least 37 months after harvest, of which 30 months must be in contact with the yeast (similar to Champagne). A Franciacorta Rosé must contain at least 15% Pinot Nero, and may be made by blending red wine. Franciacorta Satèn must be a Blanc de Blancs with only the use of Chardonnay and/or Pinot Bianco permitted, with only 4.5 atmospheres of pressure instead of 6.

The grapes for Franciacorta are grown in strictly specified vineyards in 20 communes, including Erbusco where I drove too from Verona, halfway towards Milan and had the pleasure of being hosted by Ca’ del Bosco, which is one of the most picturesque destinations in the world, as well as a quality winery. Its own vineyards are a mixture of soil described as mineral-rich, calcareous gravel and sandy morainal soils that cover a limestone bedrock.
Ca' del Bosco is on the leading edge of the exciting new wave of Italian wine producers, making absolutely top-quality méthode traditionnelle and still wines. Maurizio Zanella founded the winery in 1968, and dedicated himself to distinguishing the sparkling wines of Franciacorta.

Top reviews are many, and Ca' del Bosco is, as Hugh Johnson puts it, "One of Italy's best sparkling-winemakers."
The winery owns more than 93 hectares in the region, with vineyards planted in Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Nero and other indigenous Franciacorta grapes.
Ca' del Bosco's reputation for sparkling wines has been secured by the excellence of its cuvées. Along with the premium quality wines - the winery is full of and surrounded by dramatic artworks and sculptures, the wine tasting and overall visit was one I will never forget.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pasqua - a Family Passion

After a long and eventful train journey from Florence to Veneto. Then hiring the last rental car at the station, it was time to find the new winery of Pasqua just a few miles north in San Felice.
As you start down the drive-way you see the impressive new winery, which was still having some finishing touches applied while I was there.

One of Italy's leading independent, family owned wine companies they are one of the few wineries of the Veneto region to actually have their headquarters in the heart of the commercial district on the edge of the city of Verona. They even employed a designer from Milan to come up with their stunning new labels and packaging. All that said, to balance their urban location, the family have 84 years experience working the land of this region, and have been the drivers of the region's success, ensuring wines like Soave and Valpolicella are known throughout the wine-drinking world.

      

Warmly greeted by Carlotta Pasqua and then introduced to the winery staff and several of the family relatives that have varying roles within the business. We jumped back in the car and had a tour of several of the closer vineyards, showing the diversity in location, soil and also canopy techniques with one of their older vineyards still applying the pergola method.

Then a tour of the new facilities which is on a grand scale, but with a fine attention to detail for each parcel of fruit that comes into the winery and the winemaking options available for the many styles of wines that Pasqua produce. Seeing the grapes being dried in trays for their Amarone wine was one of many unique insights learnt on this Italian trip.
Then the tasting - in the winery tasting room, which doubles as the cellar door, we were surrounded by a wall of Pasqua labels and styles, where do you start, what a dilemma we had.
In all of the wines that we tasted - you could see a balance that Pasqua has achieved of old traditional wine styles and the clean fresh influences that the export market is enjoying with a wide array of cuisine.

Pasqua is all about "A Family Passion" - that is evident in everything that they do with the family members involved at all stages of the winemaking process. The three senior Pasqua brothers are very cosmopolitan, they are far from the image of the peasant winemaker/farmer as you could imagine.
The Pasqua family is dedicated to producing high quality grapes and making great value wines which express the character of the Italian wine regions from which they come.
Yes they do produce excellent value, 'entry-level' wines, Pasqua also have a reputation for crafting beautiful Amarone-style and top quality wines, such as the single vineyard Villa Borghetti wines, ensuring that Pasqua are also enjoyed in the best dining rooms, both public and private around the world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cecchi - Tuscany

After an early start to the day that began in Rome, catching a train from the central station to Florence, and then grabbing a rental car to drive back down to Castellina in Chianti, we were greeted by Riccardo Francesconi (Export manager) for Cecchi. First Riccardo took us to a rustic, traditional cafe & trattoria just outside Monteriggioni - where I enjoyed possibly the best sandwich in my life. Chosen from an open prep-area in the corner of the cafe, you can select from local produce, I chose an un-salted loaf to go with naturally salty cured Tuscan ham and ripe tomatoes all finished with a local olive oil - I was now set for the rest of the day.
We then made our way to the redesigned and rebuilt winery / cellars and new management centre at the Castellina in Chianti premises completed last year in 2006. Cecchi is the brand-name of a well respected major wine company, with a lengthy history, but more than anything else it is the name of a family.

      

From 1893 to the present day the Cecchi family has played a key role in the evolution of the world of wine both as a product and as a philosophy, and it has lived, understood and digested all the changes that have taken place in over a century. At the helm of the business today are Cesare and Andrea Cecchi, who draw on the teachings of their predecessors, and are taking the work forward with a passion and professionalism aimed at achieving excellence.
Cecchi understands that the interaction between the earth and technology yields its greatest results. As with all great wine - Cecchi wines are the fruit of the land. Care for the vines is intense and constant, because it’s the grapes that arrive in the cellars that will guarantee an excellent starting point for the quality being pursued.
Riccardo showed us around the very well equipped winery - with the most advanced systems in order to optimise every single part of the production process. This attention to detail is what led them to become one of the first companies to achieve ISO 9001:2000 certification in 1997, and many other firsts in production and waste management - all certifications that guarantee quality for all markets.
The next day Riccardo took us on a road-trip down to Maremma - to visit and sample the wines from their new development that started in 1996. The property is home to approx 25 ha, a great deal of replanting has changed the face of this land, with a focus on Sangiovese. Cecchi has some grand ideas and plans for this site, a very large project for a new winery, has already begun and now we must wait to see, I look forward to returning.
Cecchi has about 250 hectares of vineyards, spread over four different areas of central Italy: Chianti Classico, San Gimignano, Maremma Toscana and Umbria. The whole team is constantly committed to understanding a changing world and presenting wines of excellence for worldwide markets expecting and conscious of quality, but with all this said they have not forgotten their past, the respect of indigenous grapes and crafting honest wine that express their terroir, and match local & modern cuisine like no other wine can. A traditional and memorable Tuscan experience.