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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the summer series of winemaker interviews.

Founded in 1937, Brookfields is Hawke's Bay's Oldest Boutique Winery. Peter Robertson bought Brookfields Vineyards in 1977. Peter creates classic wines with grapes only grown in specific vineyard sites and to his strict growing policy - (expressing the essence of place).
"It is my strong belief that superior wine comes from superior fruit; great wines are made in the vineyard”. At Brookfields, Peter lets each vintage speak for itself, giving each parcel of fruit individual attention, so as to best express each vineyard site, grape variety and the age of the vines. Peter is often referred to as 'a quiet achiever', diligently going about his business, shunning the spotlight, letting his wines speak for themselves. And for over thirty years, those wines have certainly been telling a fascinating story.


Peter’s quiet confidence becomes much more vocal when he's talking about his wines, as it should, for they are uniformly brilliant, invariably showing the meticulous attention to detail that characterises the man himself. It is the depth, excellence and it is this brilliance across all varieties that remind you of his talent. I have known Peter and his family for more years than we both can now count, as I have run out of fingers and toes.., but in those years we have shared and enjoyed many a good wine or two.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
After finishing a science degree at Otago I worked for Barkers Fruit Wines in Geraldine - I then did a Post Graduate year at Lincoln College.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
While at Lincoln College I worked on a Dissertation with Danny Schuster for a year, and then worked at McWilliams Wines in Napier for three years, starting in 1974.


What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
I enjoy working with red grape varieties due to their longevity, however white wine making also has its challenges.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
While I only worked for Tom McDonald for two years, he was most generous with his wines and knowledge. While sharing an aged Burgundy one Sunday morning he mentioned Brookfields Vineyards was for sale and that I should take a look - the rest is history.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
1988 with Cyclone Bola brought 4 inches of rain with it. The white varieties struggled, but there was at least a three week break in the weather before harvesting the reds and they were surprisingly OK!

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Romeo Bragato tops my list. He is the foundation to the NZ wine industry.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
Aged Bordeaux rate highly - a First Growth from a good year would fit nicely e.g. Ch. Lafite Rothschild.


If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
Having spent considerable time in France, I would enjoy being there.

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Passion and more passion - to work in the wine industry you must be a born optimist.

If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
If I hadn’t been a winemaker I would have trained race horses. Both are industries which demand passion and commitment.

Brookfields Vineyards Wines are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants. Or visit their website: Brookfields Vineyards

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Chief Winemaker: Tony Bish

Pure Gold - Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2011.

The 2011 Marlborough harvest was not easy - but in this glass Tony has captured some fantastic, bright varietal characters.
Sourced from their vineyard, situated on the sunny southern side of Marlborough's Wairau Valley, the 60 hectare 'Hells Gate' vineyard gets its name from a dramatic gorge, which is located in the headwaters of the Wairau River. The vineyard itself is situated on the banks of the Omaka River on a stony and sunny river terrace. The cool night time temperatures received in this river valley ensure that the characteristic Marlborough fruit flavours are retained as the grapes ripen in the sunny Marlborough climate.
Cool fermented in stainless steel with aromatically expressive yeasts to retain freshness and varietal expression. The wine was minimally handled through to bottling to retain purity of flavour. In the glass you will see a pale straw colour with a bright shine. The nose has lifted sweet tropical fruit notes of passion fruit, mango, honeydew melon and a hint of lemongrass. The palate is expressive, full of tropical fruity flavours that mingle with red capsicum and lemongrass, leading on to a deliciously long refreshing finish. Chill and serve at 6-8°C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and well into 2012.

Perfect wine match with steam or grilled white fish, Asian cuisine and summer salads, enjoy.



Corvina is an Italian red wine grape variety that is also referred to as Corvina Veronese and sometimes Cruina. It is primarily grown in the Veneto region of northeast Italy. In the Veneto region, Corvina is often confused with Corvinone, a red grape usually used in the production of straw wines. For a long time, Corvinone was considered a clone of Corvina but DNA profiling has shown that they are two different varieties. Corvina, a dark-berried, thick-skinned variety, is the principal grape in red Valpolicella wines, forming the backbone of the blend with its firm tannins and rich, smoky, red-cherry scents and flavours.

The grapes naturally high acidity can make the wine somewhat tart with a slight, bitter almond note. The finish is sometimes marked with sour cherry notes. In some regions of Valpolicella, producers are using barrel aging to add more structure and complexity to the wine. The small berries of Corvina are low in tannins and colour extract but have thick skins that are ideal for drying and protecting the grape from rot.


Corvina is used with several other grapes to create the very popular regional wines: Bardolino, Valpolicella, Amarone and Recioto. In Valpolicella, Corvina generally made up to 70% of the wine. It is also used to be made high as 85% in some parts of Southern Italy. Corvina based wines appeal to fruit loving wine drinkers at all levels. The quality of Valpolicella Classico Superiore has greatly improved over the past 10-15 years and Amarone continues to impress enthusiasts the world over.

Corvina is made in several styles: an approachable dry to off-dry fruity style like Valpolicella Classico, in a 'Ripasso' style which incorporates Valpolicella with a dose of the rich 'Amarone' juice - giving it a full palate. Amarone wines range in style from premium, full-throttled fruit driven wines with scents of smoked meats and spice notes crafting wines of top quality, often described as hedonistic wines.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hewitson 'Miss Harry' G/S/M 2010

Grape Variety: 45% Grenache, 39% Shiraz, 8% Mourvedre, 4% Carignan and 4% Cinsault

Growing Region: Barossa Valley, Australia

Owner/ Chief Winemaker: Dean Hewitson

The 2010 Miss Harry G/S/M is sourced from traditionally grown vineyards dating back to the late 1800s in the Barossa Valley. These varieties have thrived in the Barossa Valley. The old deep-rooted Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre perfectly accompany the later-ripening Carignan and Cinsault that add an important note to the final blend.
Each parcel was fermented separately on their skins before finishing fermentation and malo-lactic fermentation in old French barriques then matured in these same barrels for about twelve months without racking. These are Deans traditional methods that intensify flavour and complexity in his wines.
The 2010 Miss Harry continues the pedigree of this wonderfully structured, fruit-driven red wine that absolutely delivers with integrity and complexity in a very approachable style. In the glass the wine is bright red with a deep purple hue. Lively aromas of black and red berries, pepper, spice, garrigue, dried lavender and herbs with layers of complexity offered by the extended barrel maturation on lees. The palate is delightfully full, showing ripe black berries, plums, and has a concentrated core of fruit with a racy acidity that gives the wine incredible vitality. Ending with a finish that lingers long after your friends have gone home. Decant for 20-30mins and serve at 17C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and during the next 3-5 years.

Perfect wine match with a good Kiwi BBQ, a wide array of pizza's and good tapas, enjoy.

A most approachable wine, one to share.


Maremma wine region

The Maremma wine region is located in Southern Tuscany, Italy. Maremma is extremely different to Northern Tuscany wine regions, such as Chianti Classico which has extremely well developed wine tourism and many cellars open to the public. Maremma on the other hand, is far more exclusive. Few cellars open to the public and the region is noticeably less visited by tourists. Maremma is for serious wine lovers, but no less an attractive region to visit. Maremma is often referred to as the 'Wild West', both in terms of its landscapes and its winemaking. While in Northern Tuscany, the Etruscans were making wine thousands of years before, Maremma used to be a wild, swampy remote area and viticulture was only introduced to the region in the 19th century. It wasn't until the 1980's that foreigner's had even heard of Maremma wines.


The principal wine villages in the Maremma are Bolgheri, Castagneto Carducci, and Suvereto. Grapes used include: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Vermentino, Cabernet Franc, Alicante and Aleatico. Soil varies from loam and clay in some areas; clay and sand with plenty of limestone, and variably sized stones.

Alta Maremma (Upper Maremma) is on the border with the Province Siena. The heart of the Maremma Grosseto can be considered the capital of the Maremma. The area around Grosseto and the coast, with Marina di Grosseto, Castiglione della Pescaia and the small villages that lie on the plain between the city and the coast, represents the heart of Maremma. The hills of the Upper Maremma can be divided into three: Del Tufo (tufo is a volcanic rock that has been used for thousands of years in construction), the Colline Metallifere (literally, 'the hills that produce metals') and the internal hills on the border with the Siena region.
Maremma has its own IGT designation 'Maremma Toscana'. Plus Maremma is now home to Tuscany's newest DOCG, Morellino di Scansano, which was upgraded from DOC status during the 2007 vintage, and are made from at least 85% Sangiovese.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the summer series of winemaker interviews.

Michael Fragos joined Chapel Hill in February 2004, instantly he became an invaluable addition to the winemaking team. Michael was named Winestate Magazine's Winemaker of the Year in December 2003. After not wishing to become a teacher, Michael completed a graduate diploma course in Oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural. Michael has an enviable reputation as an outstanding winemaker and is well known in the international winemaking arena as a hard working winemaker. In 2007 he received the title of 'Winemaker of the Year' at the London International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).


Michael and the team have achieved a lot since winning this accolade, not least of which is the 2010 McLaren Vale Bushing King, awarded to the maker of McLaren Vale's top wine in that year. He is in fact one of only two winemakers to have won the award 3 times in the awards 40 year history. Michael strives for wines to express individual vineyard sites, whilst harnessing the passion, energy and commitment of all involved from the vineyards through to the cellar. It is clear for all to see and enjoy in every wine that Michael and his team carefully craft. I have had the pleasure to see the development in his wines over a number of years now, and even receiving barrel samples of future wines always has my taste buds on the alert with anticipation.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I grew up on a vineyard in McLaren Vale and enjoyed the annual ritual of making a barrel of our “house” wine. Always loved the food and wine connection.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
Roseworthy College in South Australia: 1989

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
Old Vine Grenache, it is such a privelege to be able to interpret the personality and character of these vines that were planted in the 1920’s.


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
Actually we are not currently pursuing any new varieties, instead focussing on articulating the unique charactaristics of our vineyards.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
The fact that they are all different is invigorating. We need to celebrate our vintage variation more and ensure that the wines capture and confidently tell the vintage story.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
It had to be my first vintage in 1990, I had the technical knowledge but no practical experience and I was thrown into the deep end when the assistant winemaker walked out on the day before we received our first grapes. It was also the vintage that taught me to swear in Greek.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
Drew Noon, don’t get caught up with the hype and work hard.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Just missed out on meeting both my grand fathers, I would have loved to have received some of their wisdom.


If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
If it was with Marianne it would be a Nebuchadnezzar of 1985 Krug, if it was by myself then it would be the largest bottle of single malt whisky I could possibly find.

If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
I have promised my family that we will one day spend a couple of months living in a villa in a quaint Italian village, whilst I partake in a leasurely vintage in a small winery owned by a warm and embracing family who love cooking and entertaining.

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Attention to detail is imperative, once you get this right you can then learn to trust yourself and your grapes.

If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
I am a music nut, so a music journalist for a reputable international magazine would be nice. In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
Always seeking more complexity and intrigue in our wines, whilst ensuring that we always preserve the purity of fruit. As above, learning to trust instincts and the vineyard sites which results in less winemaking “interference” and ultimately achieving full expression of the unique grape characters.

Chapel Hill Wines are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants. Or visit their website: Chapel Hill Wines

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rockburn 'Stolen Kiss' Rose 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Parkburn (Cromwell Basin) - Central Otago, New Zealand

Chief Winemaker: Malcolm Rees-Francis

I'm so glad to see that Rose wines have become a regular on New Zealand summer wine-lists, sometimes even more than one - and in Kiwi refrigerators across the country. Here is New Zealand we have access to so much fresh shellfish, Asian cuisine and salads dishes throughout summer up and down the country, what better match than with a lively Rose. This Rose was made like some many top quality wines of this style - having the juice being sourced from a multiple number of Pinot Noir fermenters. Approximately 8% of their free run juice was drained off throughout this process. This saignee juice (or bleeding of the vats) was fermented in stainless steel tanks at 12-14C to retain fresh aromatics, and was stopped short of being fermented to complete dryness (retaining some natural sugar) to further enhance the natural sweet fruit characters.
As you pour this wine into your glass, have your sunglass at the ready for the nearly florescent bright summer Rose colour will brighten any occasion. On the nose - the wine expresses primary red summer fruits, plus reminiscent of freshly spun candyfloss and wild strawberries. The palate is lively, even flirtatious (possibly hence the name) toffee apple and sweet strawberries just before you put them atop a Pavlova filled will cream; most enjoyable sipped with friends chilled on a summer afternoon and early evenings. Chill and serve at 8-9C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and well into 2012.

Perfect wine match with scallops, prawn salad, and fresh summer fruit desserts, enjoy.

Bright primary red fruit flavours.



Reims is a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, and is located 129km east-northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire.
Some may regard Reims as the geographical capital of the province of Champagne, given its size as by far the largest city in the region. Vines have existed in this region for over two thousand years. From the Roman invasion to the 16th century, the region's history was closely associated with the production of still red wines, then ‘vin gris’ (not grey wine, but off-white tinged with pink) before producers began to take advantage, towards the end of the 17th century, of the natural tendency of Champagne wines to become effervescent. The increasing popularity of Champagne and its sparkle led to the creation and prosperity of numerous Champagne Houses in the region.


Montagne de Reims: south of Reims, is where the best Pinot Noir grows, is a vast plateau 20-25 kilometers in length and varies from 6 to 10 kilometers in width, and is famed for producing rich, full-bodied Champagnes. Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are the predominant varieties here. The vineyards run up the hillsides until they give way to the trees at the top. Here chalk, mostly the favoured belemnite form, is the principal material underfoot, and hence the land is very desirable for planting vines. Its highest point it is 180m above sea level. The vineyards stretch continuously the length of its northern slopes from Villers-Allerand to Mailly, but the most renowned vineyards are on the northeastern slopes from Verzenay and Verzy to Bouzy and Ambonnay, where the purest chalk subsoil is found and is a perfect environment for the finest Pinot Noir grapes.
The global reputation of a particular Reims Champagne (e.g. Piper & Charles Heidsieck) justifies a house respecting these traditional production laws. It guarantees the specific characteristics and subtleties that a loyal customer comes to expect from a particular Reims house. We were again reminded of the long history of the city, as last year in 2011 Notre-Dame de Reims celebrated its 800th anniversary.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Matawhero 'Church House' Chardonnay Musque 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay Musque

Growing Region: Gisborne, New Zealand

Owners: Kirsten & Richard Searle

This idyllic spot in Gisborne is more than just picture postcard memorable - but also for the wines that Richard & Kirsten Searle are nurturing back to life on this 15 hectare Matawhero Estate which has now been replanted and revitalised. The release of this new Matawhero wine continues the rekindling of this renowned label and wines. For those not up to speed - originally established in 1968 by Bill Irwin, Matawhero Wines defied expectation and made wines of boutique standing and international acclaim, changing the face of New Zealand Winemaking forever.
The Matawhero Church has graced the wine label since 1975 and the 'Church House' series, is a collection of small and unique parcels of wine, is a tribute to this historic building and inspired by the pioneering spirit of the founder. In keeping with this tradition, they have released this new Chardonnay clone, noted for its Muscat characters.
Named after the oldest building in Gisborne, the Matawhero 'Church House' Series carries on the innovative and pioneering spirit of original founder, Bill Irwin. In the glass this 'Chardonnay Musque' clone has a dramatic aroma of exotic musk, fresh spice and even tropical fruits. The palate is fresh with ripe stone-fruits, musk, spice and sweet melon. The wine has a well balanced mouth feel and a pleasant lingering finish. Chill and serve between 8-10C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and over the next 2-3 years.

Perfect wine match with Asian seafood cuisine, white meats and light pasta dishes, enjoy.

An unforgettable aroma, with a ripe palate.



Epernay is the true ‘wine capital’ of Champagne. Strategically placed in a basin of prime vineyards between the top of the Côte des Blancs and the central part of the Marne Valley, Epernay's ‘raison d'etre’ is making champagne. Approximately 90% of this town's population have wine-related jobs, mainly in one of the 37 Champagne houses. A major attraction is that the grand houses on the town's Avenue de Champagne can be visited on foot.


Epernay is located 150km northeast of Paris - just under two hours using the A4 motorway. There is a TGV train service running 8 times per day from Paris to Reims in just 45min. There are connecting trains to Epernay. The closest international airport is Charles de Gaulle in Paris and there is a direct TGV rail link from the airport to Reims-Ardennes station (the Epernay side of the city), taking 30 minutes.

Venturing out of the town, some of the finest vineyards can be visited within half an hour by car. The historic town of Aÿ, the cradle of Pinot Noir is just across the Marne; its steep south-facing slopes produce the base for the most sumptuous Champagne cuvees. Westwards along the Marne as far as Dormans lie prime sites for the Pinot Meunier grape, a key ingredient of such classics as Pol Roger. Just south of Epernay, the 20km long elliptical-shaped hillside of the Côte de Blancs is home to superbly crystalline, mineral-charged Chardonnay. The subsoil over the whole region is chalk which drains well, though retaining enough water for the vines to survive in a drought. There is a thin layer of topsoil which can consist of sand, marl, loam, clay, lignite and chalk itself.

Champagne is the most northerly AC wine region in France and the climate is greatly influenced by the Atlantic, which has a cooling effect in the summer and makes the seasons very variable. Frost is a serious problem in spring and autumn, and the growing season is dependent on the unpredictability of the weather. The 3 key areas are Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne and Côte des Blancs.