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, May 27, 2008


Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto, Oporto, Porto, and Port) is a sweet Portuguese, fortified wine from the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is often served as a dessert wine. Wines in the style of the Portuguese product called Port are produced around the world in several countries - most notably Australia, South Africa, India, Canada and the USA. However, under European Union guidelines (and Canada), only the product from Portugal may be labeled as Port. In the USA, Federal law mandates that the Portuguese-made product be labeled Porto or Vinho do Porto.


Port is produced from grapes grown and processed in the Douro region. The wine produced is then fortified with the addition of distilled grape spirits in order to stop the fermentation leaving some rest sugar in the wine and to boost the alcohol content. The wine is then stored and aged; often in barrels stored in caves (Portuguese meaning "cellars"), before being bottled.
The wine received its name, 'Port,' in the latter half of the 17th century from the seaport city of Porto at the mouth of the Douro River, where much of the product was brought to market or for export to other countries in Europe from the Leixoes docks. The Douro valley where Port wine is produced was defined and established as a protected region or appellation in 1756 - making it the second oldest defined and protected wine region in the world.

Vintage Port
Tawny Port (and Aged Tawny)
Late-Bottled Vintage (LBV)
Late-Bottled Non-Vintage (LBNV) or Vintage Character
Crusted Port
Ruby Port
White Port

Grapes used to make Port:
Red Port can be made from many types of grapes, but the main ones are Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa (Touriga Franca), and Touriga Nacional. White Ports are produced the same way as red Ports, except that they use white grapes - Esgana-Cao, Folgasao, Malvasia, Rabigato, Verdelho, and Viosinho.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Sherry is a fortified wine originally produced in and around the town of Jerez, Spain; in Spanish it is called 'Vino de Jerez'. The town's Persian name during the Rustamid period was Xerex (Shariz, in Persian), from which Sherry and Jerez are derived.
Spanish producers have registered the names Jerez / Xeres / Sherry and will prosecute producers of similar wines from other places using the name. By law, Sherry must come from the triangular area of the province of Cadiz between Jerez, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Sherry is made in Spain from three grapes: Palomino, Pedro Ximenez, and Moscatel. Sherry-style wines made in other countries often use other grape varieties.


Sherry differs from other wines because of how it is treated after fermentation. Fortification takes place after fermentation, all natural Sherries are dry; any sweetness is applied later. In contrast, port wine is fortified halfway, stopping fermentation so not all the sugars turn into alcohol, leaving a sweet wine. Sherry is first fortified with grape spirit and then if destined to be a Fino style, a yeast called flor is allowed to grow. Oloroso style is fortified to a strength where the flor cannot grow.

Fino ('fine') - the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of sherry.
Manzanilla - a variety of Fino sherry made around the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda.
Amontillado - aged first under a cap of flor then exposed to oxygen, which produces a result darker than Fino but lighter than Oloroso.
Oloroso ('scented') - aged oxidatively for a longer time than Fino or Amontillado, producing a darker, richer wine.
Palo Cortado - very rare, fortified and aged without flor, it develops the richness of Oloroso and retains the crispness of Amontillado.
Pedro Ximenez & Moscatel - extremely rich sweet wines that form the preferred base for sweetening dry Sherries. They are rarely bottled on their own. Pedro Ximenez makes one of the world's best dessert wines.

Related Articles:

Palomino Grape
Pedro Ximenez
Solera System

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What are 'Second Label' wines?

Some wine enthusiasts desire fancy labels, others relish what's inside the bottle. If you're in the second group, you'll find a lot to like about Bordeaux 'second-label' wines. Made primarily from younger vines and extra-production, second wines may cost a third the price of the same estate's primary wine, but they deliver good value and quality in their own right.
They come from the same vineyards, made by the same winemaker as the estate's first wine, second-label wines often capture the distinctive 'Terroir' of the Chateau. The chief difference is that they are made to drink without the need for cellaring.


Within the boundaries of a Chateau, there are differences in terroir: some areas have better soils, better exposure; some are planted with younger vines that yield lighter wines. Many grow up to four varieties; some do well in one year and some in another. Each variety is harvested, vinified separately, once aged, the winemaker tastes each to select the blending proportions, and it is during this process that second wines emerge.
Second wines in Bordeaux can be traced back to the 8th century but became commercially important in the 1980s when competition forced Chateaux to select grapes more rigorously. This means up to 50% of the grapes are discarded before they ripen so the vines concentrate their flavours and improve quality. By harvest, up to 25% of the crop may further be removed. Undergone such a selective process, it can be expected that even second wines will be very good.
In order to offer drinkable Bordeaux, establishments spend a fortune buying mature wine at auction, and then pass the cost on to their customers. Others sell what are currently on the market, even if the wines are still in need of aging. Result; customers drink unready Bordeaux or, customers choose a wine from elsewhere that ages faster. If you don't want to pay hundreds of dollars at auction - the alternative is investing in current vintages and ageing them for 15+ years. - Or you can enjoy a 'second label' wine.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What is Bottle Shock?

I remember the first time I heard this term - I wasn't sure if someone had jumped out from behind a barrel and scared the wine, or worse still the wine had been electrocuted. Whatever meaning you choose, one thing is certain: bottle shock isn't a term many wines hope to be labeled.
In the scientific sense; bottle shock is when wine adopts strange, disordered flavours. These disordered flavours can make the wine taste less fruity, make the presence of the alcohol or the tannins more noticeable, and cause bottles of wine to taste out of sorts, leaving you unsure of even the grape variety or style of wine.


The good news is that bottle-shock is a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed flavours. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines are shaken in travel (example; sea travel). After several weeks the condition usually disappears.
Consider - at one moment the wine is happy and settled in its tank or barrel in the winery. Then it comes time to bottling, it suffers a rude shock, wake-up from its restful sleep when it is pumped through pipes at high speed ending up like a little genie in a bottle. After such a shake-up, the wine needs time to settle and compose itself.
A bottle shocked wine still has all the flavours and characteristics present, but they have been 'jumbled, disordered' by the bottling process, travel and changes in temperature. As the wine settles over a period of weeks or months, re-gathers itself and the characters fit back together, like a jigsaw puzzle.
So remember; when opening a just bottled wine that is known for full, rich, intense flavours and it has just arrived by sea, bounced around on the back of a truck, shaken around inside your hot car and then poured into a glass. Don't be surprised if the wine is a little shy at first, feeling a little battered and bruised, disoriented and not quite in the mood to do a song and dance routine that will win it an academy award. Give all wines time to rest.