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, August 31, 2010


Historical records show plantings of Verdelho - a white wine grape throughout Portugal as early as the 15th century, though it is most associated with the island of Madeira, and also gives its name to one of the four main types of Madeira wine. It is one of Madeira's noble grape varieties and was the most widely planted on the island until the 20th century. Plantings then dwindled and the regional authorities were so alarmed that they put in place a plan to revive the grape.


Verdelho was badly affected by the Phylloxera plague and the number of vines has decreased greatly in the century since. Since 1993 any Madeira wine labelled as Verdelho must contain at least 85 percent of the grape, which wasn't previously the case.

The grape is also grown in the Douro valley, where it is confused with Gouveio. It is also a small component of some 'Vinho do Dao'. Portuguese Verdelho is noted for its higher sugar content in the grapes then what is typically achieved in the warmer climate of Madeira. In smaller quantities, it is grown in the Galicia region of Spain where it is called Verdello. The grape can also be found in Italy's Umbria region as Verdello, it may well be the same variety, although this is yet unproven. Plus in Argentina, with at least one producer marketing a wine called simply Verdelho.

The grape has been successful in Australia, where versions of Verdelho are noted for their intense flavours with hints of lime and honeysuckle and the oily texture that the wines can get after aging. The variety is known for its high acidity when aged, but if drunk young generally possesses more fruit flavour than the other Madeira's. The grapes ripen early but can be prone to powdery mildew and also susceptible to frost during the spring.
From cool to warm climates the varietal character will change from herbaceous, grassy and spice through to more tropical notes of pineapple, melon, guava and honey-suckle. A very refreshing wine well suited too many fresh dishes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deen De Bortoli 'Vat 9' Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Growing Region: Limestone Coast region, Australia

Chief Winemaker: Steve Webber

91 pts - Nick Stock & Tyson Stelzer - Wine 100, July 2010

Deen De Bortoli created his Vat Series with the idea of developing a range of delicious; full-flavoured wines that over delivered for the price. Deen personally selected the blends and chalked the numbers on the vats to identify them - hence the name.
The Cabernet Sauvignon fruit for this wine was selected by the winemaking team and picked when both flavour and Baume levels were at their optimum. The fruit was cold soaked and fermented at 25C - 32C for an average of 7 days. The wine also underwent malolactic fermentation, and then matured in French and American oak barriques for 12 months.
The glass is filled with a deep purple with crimson hues. The nose has fragrant cassis, ripe plum with hints of mint and subtle cedar oak aromas. On the palate you find rich black fruits and sweet plum with fine grain tannins and well integrated oak makes this a soft generous wine with a good finish. Decant for 15mins. Serve at 18C.

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

Perfect wine match with duck or rabbit, rich pasta dishes and hard cheeses, enjoy.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Coulure is the result of metabolic and weather conditions that cause either the grapevine flowers to not pollinate, so they do not becomes berries, or the tiny berries fall off soon after they form. This means a poor fruit set. Depending upon the severity, the net result is low or poor quantity or even no crop at all. In English the word 'shatter' is sometimes used.


Coulure is triggered by periods of cold, cloudy, rainy weather or very high out-of-season temperatures. The condition most often occurs in the spring. It also occurs in vines that have low sugar content; flowers stay closed and are not fertilized. Thus the vines are not pollinated as the grape fails to develop and falls off. Coulure can also cause irregular bunches of grapes which are less compact than normal. These bunches are more sensitive to developing various grape diseases. The yield of a vine with coulure will decrease substantially. Some varieties are more prone to coulure than others, such as Grenache, Malbec and Merlot. Other causes may be vineyard conditions and practices, pruning too early or too severely, very fertile soils or overuse of fertilizers, and poor selection of rootstocks or clones.

Coulure is caused by a carbohydrate deficiency that causes the vine to conserve resources that would otherwise be funneled into the developing berries. As carbohydrate levels drop, soon after flowering the stems connected to the berries shrivel and the small grapes eventually fall off. To some extent coulure and the dropping of fruit is a natural reaction of a vine that is self regulating its resources and the amount of fruit it produces.
But when the situation is exaggerated by certain weather conditions and disruption to photosynthesis, coulure can have a more severe impact on yields. Limited sunshine means lower sugar levels that can be converted to develop grape berries. With some grape varieties 'warm temperatures' can promote cellular respiration and excessive shoot growth that further competes with the berries for the resources.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chateau Sarget De Gruaud Larose 2005

Grape Variety: 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot

Growing Region: Saint Julian, Bordeaux

Consultant Winemaker: Georges Pauli

88 pts - Wine Spectator, 2006

Chateau Gruaud-Larose is situated in Saint Julien - which is squeezed between Pauillac to the north and Margaux to the south in the Haut-Medoc district of Bordeaux.
Sarget de Gruaud-Larose, the 'second wine', is a stunning effort and fantastic value. Made from the youngest vines, it reveals a very fragrant nose, a rich balanced mid-palate and a seamless finish. I have tasted it quite a few times - first at the Chateau 4 years ago and in different tastings since and each time seduced by its harmonious and earthy yet smooth texture and it certainly doesn't lack any depth or intensity.
Chateau Gruaud Larose is consistently one of the best Saint-Julien wines from one vintage to the next, and its young son has shown a similar evenness since its introduction in 1979.
The nose is exotic, floral and aromatic, with cassis and hints of preserved plums and herbs. The high Merlot proportion (33%), which was so rich this vintage, gives the wine an extra roundness in 2005, while the finish is very pure, velvety and a long fruit and toasted oak finish. Remaining true to its St Julien terroir this is a very good wine indeed. Decant for 20mins, Serve at 18C.

Drinking perfectly well this season; and over the next 5-7 years. *(Limited Availablity)

Perfect wine match with richly flavoured meats, truffle or wine jus and roasted vegetables, enjoy.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Orange Wine

Orange wine - is not wine made from oranges. Orange wine is wine made from white wine grape varieties that have spent some maceration time in contact with the grape skins.
Typically white wine production involves crushing the grapes and quickly moving the juice off the skins into fermentation tanks and vats. The grape skins contain colour pigment, phenols and tannins that are often considered undesirable for white wines - while for red wines, skin contact and maceration is a vital part of the winemaking process that gives red wines its colour, flavour and texture.


Orange wines get their name from the darker, slightly orange tinge that the white wines receive due to their contact with the colouring pigments of the grape skins. These are white grapes left to ferment and exposed to oxidation, giving them a colour that verge on the orange/sienna shade.
This winemaking style is essentially the opposite of 'rose' production which involves taking red wine grape juice quickly off their skins, leaving the wine with a slightly pinkish hue. However in the case of Pinot Gris, among one of the more popular grapes to apply slight skin-contact treatment that is neither red nor white, the diffuse nature of the term becomes illustrated, as both an orange wine and a rose might achieve a similar expression of pink/orange/salmon-coloured wine.
The practice has a long history in winemaking dating back thousands of years to the Eurasian wine producing country of Georgia. In recent years the practice has been adopted by Italian winemakers, initially in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region, while there is also production in; Slovenia, Croatia, France, Germany, California and New Zealand.
Orange wines were not uncommon in Italy in the 1950s and 1960s, but gradually became rare as technically correct and fresh/bright white wines came to dominate the local and international market.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sacred Hill 'Deer Stalkers' Syrah 2007

Grape Variety: 100% Syrah

Growing Region: Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Chief Winemaker: Tony Bish

Gold Medal, Bragato Wine Awards 2009

This handmade wine is only produced in outstanding vintages, using premium Hawke's Bay grapes from selected sites where growing and ripening conditions have come as close to perfection as nature will allow.
This particular vintage, Hawke's Bay enjoyed a good summer with plenty of hot weather at the right time and relatively low levels of rainfall. This meant that the fruit quality at harvest time was at a maximum.
The fruit was handpicked, gently de-stemmed without crushing the berries and fermented in small open top vats with hand plunging on a regular basis. Then after vinification, the wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barriques.
In the glass a deep, rich black plum red colour. On the nose you are greeted with floral spicy notes, lifted with sweet fruits that lead onto dark fruits, earthy hints with truffle nuances. The palate is rich, complex, layered and with supple integrated tannin and oak. The palate flows beautifully from front to back with seamless texture and a ripe flavoursome profile that lingers.
Decant for approx 30-45mins, serve at 18C.

Drinking well this season; and will age for another 5-7 years.

Perfect wine match with game, roasted dishes with a wine/herb jus and rich cheeses, enjoy.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Sangiovese is an indigenous Italian red grape variety whose name derives from the Latin 'Sanguis Jovis', 'the blood of Jove (Jupiter)'. It is the grape of central Italy from Romagna down to Lazio, Campania and Sicily, outside Italy it is most famous as the main component of the blend Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, it can also be used to make varietal wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino or Sangiovese di Romagna, as well as modern 'Super Tuscan' wines like Ornellaia, Tignanello & Sassicaia.


Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavours of cherry and a little spiciness; it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavours when aged in barrels. Sangiovese was already well known by the 16th century, recent DNA profiling suggests that Sangiovese's ancestors are Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo. The former is well known as an ancient variety in Tuscany, the latter is an almost-extinct variety from Calabria, the toe of Italy. At least 14 Sangiovese clones exist, of which Brunello is one of the best regarded. An attempt to classify the clones into Sangiovese grosso (including Brunello) and Sangiovese piccolo families is an ongoing process.
Sangiovese has shown itself to be adaptable to many different types of vineyard soils but seems to thrive in soils with a high concentration of limestone, having the potential to produce elegant wines with forceful aromas. The grape requires a long growing season, as it buds early and is slow to ripen. A longer growing season gives the grapes time to develop richness and potential body. Wines made from Sangiovese tend to exhibit the grape's naturally high acidity as well as moderate to high tannin content and light colour.
Sangiovese based wines have the potential to age but the vast majority of Sangiovese wines are intended to be consumed relatively early in its life. The wines with the longest aging potential are the Super Tuscans and Brunello di Montalcino wines that can age for upwards of 20 years in ideal vintages.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Carbonic Maceration

Carbonic maceration is a winemaking technique, associated with the French wine region of Beaujolais, in which whole grapes are fermented in a carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing. Conventional fermentation involves crushing the grapes to free the juice and pulp from the skin with yeasts used to convert sugar into alcohol. Carbonic maceration ferments most of the juice while it is still inside the grape, although grapes at the bottom of the tank are crushed by gravity and undergo conventional fermentation. The resulting wine is fruity with very low tannins. It is ready to drink quickly but lacks the structure for long-term aging. In extreme cases, such as with Beaujolais Nouveau, the period between picking and bottling can be less than six weeks.


During carbonic maceration, carbon dioxide is pumped into a sealed container filled with whole grapes. The carbon dioxide gas permeates through the grape skins and begins to stimulate fermentation. The entire process takes place inside each single, intact berry. The resulting wine is generally fruitier, bright in colour and less tannins than conventionally produced wines.
The Gamay grape lends itself well to the production of simple, fruity wines and Beaujolais winemakers have been able to create a unique identity based on this style of wine. Producers in other parts of France and in the New World have frequently utilized carbonic maceration with other grape varieties.
The process is almost always used in conjunction with red wine production since some of the flavours compounds produced by volatile phenols tend to form undesirable flavours with white wine grapes.
Semi-carbonic maceration is the technique where grapes are put through a short period of carbonic maceration, followed by conventional yeast fermentations. This is the process used in the production of Beaujolais Nouveau wines.
An alternative name for carbonic maceration is 'whole grape fermentation' which is distinct from the process known as 'whole bunch fermentation'.

Geoff Merrill Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Growing Region: McLaren Vale & Coonawarra, Australia

Chief Winemaker: Geoff Merrill

94 pts - Campbell Mattinson, 2010

The 2006 vintage in McLaren Vale & Coonawarra overall was quite good. It was set up well early in the growing season with good winter and early spring rains. This provided good vine canopies ideal for quality ripening. The weather then dried up at the right time, and warmed up considerably bringing ripeness almost simultaneously resulting in a very hectic few weeks for the team.
This wine is a multi-regional blend - 65% McLaren Vale with 35% Coonawarra fruit. It spends 28 months in both French and American oak - though it shows very little sign of either.
In the glass you have a very deep red with youthful purple hues. The aroma shows intense varietal characters of menthol, blackcurrant, mint and capsicum with subtle complex oak in the background. The palate is wonderfully supple and fleshy with fine firm tannins providing excellent structure. Packed with flavour, good length and well balanced acid complete this outstanding wine which will evolve and develop further with bottle maturation.
Decant for 30-40mins, serve at 18C.

Drinking well this season; and will age for another 5-7 years.

Perfect wine match with aged lamb shanks, game pie, rich pasta dishes and ripe cheeses enjoy.