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, January 27, 2013

Lake Chalice ‘Falcon Vineyard’ Riesling 2012

Grape Variety: 100% Riesling

Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Chief Winemaker: Matt Thomson

TASTING NOTE:
As many of you know - I enjoy Riesling in all its forms - and with the stunning summer many of us have been enjoying over the past weeks, what better way to refresh the taste-buds before enjoying the 'catch of the day' or a summer salad. Riesling is a variety which is highly ‘terroir-expressive’, meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine's place of origin.
The fruit for this wine was sourced from the notoriously stony 'Falcon Vineyard', in the Rapaura district of the Wairau Valley in Marlborough. The Falcon Vineyard was the foundation site for Lake Chalice Wines, and on part of an old river course. The vines must be carefully coaxed and nurtured to grow on these stony, sandy soils. Harvest yields are low but the fruit is intensely flavoured, hence their motto: “let the fruit do the talking”.
The grapes were picked on the 5th of April at 19.2 brix to retain the fresh citrus flavours. After pressing the fruit underwent a long, cool controlled fermentation which was stopped with 27 grams of sugar per litre remaining to give the wine a low alcohol of 9%. Have your sunglasses handy when pouring this wine - as in the glass you are greeted by a bright, pale straw colour. On the nose - the wine has a delicate aroma, alive with fresh citrus characters of sweet lime and mandarin with subtle floral notes. The palate has great structure and nicely balanced acidity which lead to a lively, lingering finish. Best served lightly chilled 8°C to 10°C.
 
CELLARING POTENTIAL:
Drinking perfectly well this summer season; and over the next 2-3 years.
 
SUGGESTED FOOD MATCHES:
Perfect wine match as an aperitif, with shellfish, Asian cuisine, or a summer salad, enjoy.
 
A racy and refreshing Riesling.
 
      
 
 
Other Lake Chalice Wine Reviews:
 
 

Governo Method:

Governo is a winemaking technique believed to be invented in Tuscany - Italy in the 14th century to help complete fermentation and stabilize wine. The technique involves saving a parcel of harvested grapes and allowing them to partially dry. If fermentation of the main parcel of fruit starts to slow or appears to be nearing a stuck fermentation, the half dried grapes are added to the ‘must’ which then gives the yeast cells a new source of sugar to liven up the parcel. From there, the ‘must’ can be fermented dry or stopped with the wine having a higher level of residual sugar. The process was widely used in the Chianti region until the advent of temperature controlled fermentation tanks.
 
    
 
The Governo method is a very traditional, though now little seen or practiced in Tuscany, though particularly traditional in Chianti Classico. Similar to the Ripasso method used to produce Amarone; harvested grapes are partially dried in the warm Tuscan sun for a few weeks. The dried grapes create a luxurious and concentrated juice that adds complexity and richness to the wine. The secondary (malolactic) fermentation that consequently occurs lends a softness to the typically acidic Sangiovese grapes and the drying adds an extra power and flavour profile to the sometimes light Canaiolo grapes.
This method was useful in old, cold cellars but also produced softer wines with more alcohol and a richer colour, and sometimes with slight effervescence.
From Tuscany the technique spread to Marche and Umbria where it is sometimes used today. In the Marche region the technique is most often used on wines made from the Verdicchio grape to counteract the grape's natural bitterness and to add some sweetness and frizzante qualities.
The benefits of the ‘Governo’ technique is that it encourages not only fully completed primary fermentation but can also aid in the developing of malolactic fermentation which can help stabilize the wine. For grapes with naturally high acidity like Sangiovese this process will temper some of the harshness and volatility in the finished wine.
 

Wine in Brief:

 
 


  

  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brookfields 'Bergman' Chardonnay 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay
 
Growing Region: Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
 
Owner/ Chief Winemaker: Peter Robertson
 
TASTING NOTE:
Over the past 2 decades - I have had the pleasure of visiting Brookfields Vineyards and sampling the dynamic wines crafted by Peter. All of the grapes for this ‘Bergman’ Chardonnay are estate grown - harvested from the vineyard right in front of the winery - where you can even play a friendly game of Petanque on the pitch laid alongside some of the vines. The ‘Bergman’ Chardonnay takes its name from the hundred or so ‘Ingrid Bergman’ named roses growing adjacent to the winery and a popular spot for wedding photos.
With only a very short distance to travel to the winery - the harvested grapes were pressed, and the juice immediately chilled. Following settling and inoculation with a selected yeast strain, the juice was racked into predominantly French oak, with the balance American for fermentation and subsequent aging on its lees. A small portion of the juice underwent malolactic fermentation - with the total time in oak being eight months.
As you pour the wine - a golden straw colour fills your glass. Even though this ‘Bergman’ Chardonnay was barrel fermented, it is still a fruit driven wine. Due to barrel stirring and partial malolactic fermentation, the 2011 ‘Bergman’ Chardonnay has palate weight and complexity, which is dominated by peach and melon characters - balanced by subtle oak notes. As the wine develops in the glass - you start to enjoy hints of butterscotch on the mid palate - enhancing the wines lingering finish. Chill and serve at 8°C.
 
CELLARING POTENTIAL:
Drinking perfectly well this summer season; and over the next 2-3 years.
 
SUGGESTED FOOD MATCHES:
Perfect wine match with roast chicken, BBQ’d pork and ham steaks, plus several light pasta dishes, enjoy.
 
A flavoursome, food friendly Chardonnay.

      
 
 
Other Brookfields Wine Reviews:
 
 

Xarel•lo

Xarel•lo is a white grape variety of Spanish origin particularly grown in the region of Catalonia. With Macabeo and Parellada, Xarel•lo is one of the three traditional grape varieties used to make the traditional method sparkling wine Cava. Spanish vine plantings were at approx 8,750 hectares in 2004.
Xarel•lo wine can be strongly flavoured, and is known for producing highly aromatic wines - which many believe is the decisive source of Cava's unique character. Apricot and citrus flavours are commonly associated with this varietal and with its acidity can make bright refreshing wines. It is also grown in the regions of Alella, Costers del Segre, Penedès and Tarragona.


   

Xarel-lo is the 6th most important grape in Spain - and is the flagship grape of Penedès, a smaller area inside of the Catalonia region and a predominantly white wine area (although it makes great reds, sparkling wine, and rosé wine). The area is nestled between the coast and the interior plains on Spain's east coast. The growing conditions are mild and warm - benefiting from the Mediterranean sun and the coastal breezes.
Xarel•lo grapes adapt well to most soil types up to an altitude of 400 meters - the clusters are medium-sized and not too compact. Though prone to frost damage, Xarel-lo is very productive and usually retains medium to high levels of acidity. Xarel•lo is fairly sensitive to powdery mildew and to mildew, but in the right conditions it can produce good yields. In the Alella region of Catalonia, Xarel-lo (known as Pansa Blanca) is used to produce still wines that are crisp and fresh, with lively stone fruit notes.
Xarel-lo is the essential team player - an indispensable component - which has helped to make ‘Cava’ famous but it still struggles on in virtual anonymity to many. This said - Xarel-lo is rapidly establishing itself as a very good table wine grape and while table wines made from the grape aren't widespread and assessable to all, they are slowly starting to show up more and more in retail and on wine-lists.
 

Wine in Brief:





    

   
 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jules Taylor 'Marlborough' Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Grape Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
 
Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand
 
Head Winemaker: Jules Taylor
 
TASTING NOTE:
Well finally after a staggered start, summer has arrived and so have the summer BBQ’s and fresh cuisine, including fish, shellfish and salads a plenty. So to match many of these fresh flavours you need a bright, lively and crisp white wine - so enters Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit for this quality Sauvignon Blanc was grown in the Hawkesbury, Lower Wairau & Awatere Valley sub regions of Marlborough. Each parcel of fruit was chosen for its specific contribution to the aroma, flavour and structure of the final blend.
You have heard the saying ‘less is more’ well for Sauvignon Blanc in order to encourage the flavours of each individual vineyard parcel to come through in the final blend - Jules kept the winemaking deliberately simple. The grapes were harvested, pressed and cold settled over a period of 48 hours. After racking off juice lees, fermentation was cool and long - using selected yeast strains. Post fermentation, the components were blended, stabilised and then quickly bottled to retain freshness.
In the glass you are greeted by a radiant light yellow hue, tinged with a green edge. On the nose aromas of elderflower and currants dominant, underpinned with notes of citrus and passion-fruit. The palate has fresh herbal flavours - that are layered over tropical fruit and citrus notes. A fine stream of natural acidity ensures the flavours are focused and lead to a delicate yet persistent finish with an underlying mineral character. Chill and serve at 8°C.
 
CELLARING POTENTIAL:
Drinking perfectly well this summer season; and through to the end of 2013.
 
SUGGESTED FOOD MATCHES:
Perfect wine match with shellfish, freshly caught white fish and a freshly tossed summer salad, enjoy.
 
Gold Medal - New Zealand International Wine Show 2012.
 
       


Other Jules Taylor Wine Reviews:

Jules Taylor 'Marlborough' Sauvignon Blanc 2011
 

Bentonite

Bentonite is a special type of very fine clay of the aluminium-silicate type - that is used in winemaking as a clarifier. While deposits of bentonite are found in various parts of the world, there are a few deposits including the one from which the clay is named, Fort Benton in Montana, USA, that are most suitable for wine stabilisation. Bentonite is a natural substance formed from fine volcanic dust and consists of miniscule plates consisting of silicon, magnesium and aluminium.
Bentonite has very high water absorption properties that allow it to expand to almost 20 times its original size when hydrated, and the plates are negatively charged. Wine proteins have a slight positive charge, and as opposites attract, they bind electro-statically to the negatively charged bentonite plates. This attracting charge along with hydrogen bonding causes suspended particles in the wine to cling to it as it settles to the bottom of the tank. 

    

There are several advantages to using Bentonite, as it is very effective in taking out yeast, tannins and other stubborn protein-based particles that may want to linger after fermentation. This results in a wine with a clear appearance and a radiant colour. It also helps to reduce the occurrence of certain off-flavours, as well as reduce the wine's ability to oxidize.
Bentonite is relatively easy to use - you start by mixing it with water into slurry, which will have the consistency of a thin, watery cement mix. The slurry then needs to set for about an hour so as to allow the Bentonite granules to swell and become saturated. A dose of the slurry mix is then stirred into the wine.
To make your Bentonite treatment more effective - the colder the wine is - the stronger the Bentonite static charge. At room temperature Bentonite is usually adequately effective, but by chilling the wine down to around 6-7°C the Bentonite strength is considerably enhanced. Also, stirring the wine several times after the Bentonite has been add, will give the Bentonite more time to attract particles before settling.
Bentonite fining does have a few disadvantages - as some aroma and flavour molecules are not protected from the attractive forces of the bentonite plates. Therefore, its use to fine out unwanted proteins can also produce an unintended loss of varietal character in the wine. So winemakers always conduct small scale laboratory trials to determine the minimum amount of bentonite required to achieve protein stabilisation - (i.e. the loss of sufficient proteins so that a heated wine will not go hazy).
 

Wine in Brief:


 



 

 
 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.

I would like to take this opportunity to again congratulate - Régis Camus, the director of winemaking at Piper and Charles Heidsieck, who was named ‘Sparkling Winemaker of the Year’ in 2012 - for the seventh time, by the International Wine Challenge. This rounded off an award-winning year for Charles Heidsieck, in which their Champagnes won two Trophies and four Gold medals at the IWC, as well as two Trophies and three Gold medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
 
    

It must be remembered that Régis Camus stepped into some very big shoes when he took over as ‘Chef de Caves’ at Charles Heidsieck back in 2002, following the untimely death of Daniel Thibault, who had revitalised Charles Heidsieck, turning the Champagne House into one of the world’s leading names. Though it did seem however that Régis had the necessary understanding and talent - after studying oenology in Reims, he then joined Piper and Charles Heidsieck to work with Daniel Thibault in 1994. The two formed a remarkable partnership, so it could be said that Régis has in fact already played his part in the development, and it was perhaps only right that he should make his own name as he put his hand on the tiller and decided on the best direction to head.
 
When a great winemaker is trained by another great winemaker, when their understanding runs so deep that the absence of one fails to weaken the other, when this constancy finds resonance in the wine, year after year, something very special happens - something that our restless, fickle times forget to value, but something that is essential for a great champagne house and a great champagne - is continuity.
 
I have had the unique honour and pleasure of being guided through an extensive tasting of the components that make up these two great Champagne houses with Régis himself back in 2009. An experience that made my years of wine study finally make sense - and has given me a confidence and clarity that has assisted me since when leaning and tasting new wines from across the globe.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I first studied food sciences in Reims and it was here that I met some very interesting people from the Wine Industry.
I then decided to move onto ‘Oenological’ studies. Since 1979 I have been working as part of a winemaking team, and I became the Winemaker - ‘Chef de Caves’ of Piper-Heidsieck & Charles Heidsieck in 2002.

 
  

Where and when did you study winemaking?
I studied in 1974 and 1975 at the Faculté d’Oenologie in Reims, France. After obtaining my Oenological Diploma - my first winemaking experience was in 1976.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
There have been 2 key influences: Jacques Peters, who was my tutor during my internship in 1976. He also helped me find my first job in Champagne.
Daniel Thibault who trusted me - chose me and allowed me to reach the position of ‘Chef de Caves’ of Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
Chardonnay is my favourite for the complexity in the ageing and Pinot Noir which is the predominant grape variety in the Piper-Heidsieck range.

Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
In Champagne we are very lucky to have 3 grapes varieties acclimatised to our unique temperatures.
Example: in 1985 we experienced -35°C in winter & then in 2003 we had +45°C in the summer.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
Every vintage has its own characteristics. I look out for its personality, what makes it specific so as to see if it bears the style that I look for in Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
The challenge is not really on vintage making, but on NV making. We have to make the Brut Cuvée every year and we have to create a constant wine of quality and style. The first years of the 2000’s were quite demanding - with 2001 and so much rain - and then 2003 with so much sun - and in the middle of the excellent 2002 season.

  
 
Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Life is a long journey and obviously you meet a lot of different people. They share their know-how, their knowledge. I have met ‘anciens’ (old) ‘Chefs de Caves’ and Grandes Maisons Head Managers, all very famous and knowledgeable in Champagne.
 
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
I am afraid it would not be a bottle, but a Magnum (he states with a smile). As of today, it will be a Magnum of Piper-Heidsieck Rare 1998.

If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
The place wouldn’t be what matters! But it would be somewhere without the daily struggles of the world these days. If possible a place with lots of light. ‘Luminous’

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
To be curious, passionate and to persevere.

When you are ‘not’ making wine - what is one of your favourite things to do to relax?
Working in the garden, DIY, cinema - and looking after my grand-children.

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
We have to be the guardians of the Piper-Heidsieck style and I have to listen, to look at what is happening around me - and in the world - to work on the evolution of the Cuvees for the pleasure of our consumers and Champagne Lovers.


Piper Heidsieck & Charles Heidsieck Champagne are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants.
Or visit their websites: Piper Heidsieck & Charles Heidsieck.



Sunday, January 6, 2013

Allan Scott 'Marlborough' Pinot Gris 2012

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Gris
 
Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand
 
Chief Winemaker: Bruce Abbott
 
TASTING NOTE:
The Allan Scott family themselves provide all the incentive the team needs to adopt environmentally friendly methods. After all, the vineyards and winery has to be safe and productive for their children and grandchildren! As with all balanced wines - viticultural excellence lays the groundwork for this aromatic estate-grown wine.
The team lead by Bruce Abbott - aim to achieve varietal fruit flavour, the fruit picked at the optimum moment to retain its natural acidity and ripe characters. Pinot Gris is very labour intensive in the vineyard - with continuous vineyards practices required to ensure an intensely flavoured crop.
Picked in the cool of the morning when the desired maturity and flavour development has been reached, the grapes are promptly de-stemmed and left to macerate on their ski
ns for a few hours. The grapes are then gently pressed, with the clear juice racked and inoculated with cultured yeast in stainless steel tanks at a cool temperature to maintain fruit purity. 10% of the juice went through fermentation in old French oak barrels, and a small portion under-went a wild ferment on full solids. All the wine was lees stirred and spent the time until bottling on its lees, adding further depth and texture to the palate.
Elegance is the key for this old riverbed grown wine. Fruity aromas of ripe pears with sweet apples. These fruit flavours expand in the mouth evolving and integrating with the subtle sweetness of the wine to produce a long lasting finish. Chill and serve at 8°C.
 
CELLARING POTENTIAL:
Drinking perfectly well this summer; and over the next 2-3 years.
 
SUGGESTED FOOD MATCHES:
Perfect wine match with Asian cuisine, summer salads and fresh fruit desserts, enjoy.
 
Bright, ripe fruit fills your palate.
 
       
 

Pinot Blanc:

Pinot Blanc is a white grape varietal - and is a ‘point genetic’ mutation of Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir grape is genetically unstable and will occasionally go through a ‘point mutation’ in which a vine bears all black fruit except for one cane which produces white fruit.
Historically, Pinot Blanc was used both in Burgundy and Champagne. It is still allowed in the Champagne blend and small amounts of Pinot Blanc may in principle be blended into some Burgundy wines, though very small amounts are cultivated in either region.

 
       

As of 2007, there were 1,304 hectares of Pinot Blanc vines in France, with most of the plantings found in Alsace, where it is used for both still white wines and is the most common variety used for sparkling wine, Crémant d'Alsace. Somewhat confusingly, the designation of Pinot Blanc for Alsace AOC wine does not necessarily mean that the wine is 100% Pinot Blanc. The designation means that it is a white wine made from Pinot varieties. Under Alsace appellation rules, the varieties Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir (vinified white) may all be used, but a blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois is the most common.
Part of the Burgundian family of vines whose parents have been revealed by DNA analysis to be the noble, dark-skinned Pinot Noir and a rather obscure Gouais Blanc. Pinot Blanc's siblings include Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gamay, Aligoté, Sacy, Auxerrois and the Muscadet grape, Melon de Bourgogne.
Pinot Blanc often shows aromas of apple, citrus fruit, strong floral characteristics, stone fruits and mineral notes. Regardless of their exact composition, most Pinot Blanc's are vinified in tank, though more prestigious examples are fermented in large, 100% used oak barrels. For easy, good-value drinking in a style that is likely to offend no-one, I often recommend a good quality Alsace Pinot Blanc such as Gisselbrecht. Though general enjoyed young - Pinot Blanc can also be treated more lightly and made into a crisper wine that still has some ability to age.
 

Wine in Brief:

 



  

  
 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Gavin - "The Wine Guy"

Encouraged by my good friends - during the festive break, I have written down a few of the lesser known details about my background in wine.
 
During the 1980’s as a teenager, I grew up in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand - with just a small farm separating my parent’s home from several vineyards and two small wineries. At the time I thought it normal to grow up in a home with both parents very much interested in international cuisine and having wine on the table with a meal on a regular basis. This exposure to quality ingredients, flavours and varied wine styles would hold me in good stead as a young adult. As in 1989 during my second year of completing a degree in Bachelor of Sciences at Auckland University - I began to work part-time at a fine wine retail store named Glengarry Wines.
 
     

I started in the wine industry well before barcodes were common place on each bottle, the internet and websites and for many wines not even tasting notes on their back-labels. So we had to memories all the codes, prices and details of each producer, winemaker and wine style - so I could explain to each new customer the history and personality of every wine in the shop. On a regular basis we sampled the wines (testing each other, by pouring the wines blind) - and having the opportunity to meet and talk with local and international winemakers.
In 1990 I travelled through Europe, visiting Italy, Switzerland and France - and I started to appreciate the local cuisine matched with indigenous grape varietals and wine styles and it was here that I realised I had the ability to recognise and remember wine styles and how they complimented each course and traditional dish, whether lunch or dinner, fish or meat cuisine.
On my return in 1991 - I started to regularly visit wineries around New Zealand - and within a short period of time I had developed a considerable first hand experience and knowledge of the local wine scene, while at the same time managing several Glengarry retail stores and winning at the time the top retailer award (voted for by the public) for service on 2 occasions (with the dream team at Jervois Rd) and the best wine store on 3 occasions.

     

In 1996 I decided to follow on with my University education and accomplish a Post-Graduate degree in Business Marketing - while at the same time working for a short period with the Villa Maria Wine Group building their ON-Premise (Fine Dining, Restaurant) market in Auckland. As well as having first-hand access to the wines made by one of the country’s top winemaker Michelle Richardson (named ‘Winemaker of the Year’ in 1997 and 1998) during my time there - and has continued on with her outstanding career. I also put my hand up in my spare time to work with Steve Smith MW (the country’s leading viticulturist) in the vineyards, sampling grapes during the growing season and harvest. It was also during this period - I started to write a monthly wine publication and hosting wine tastings and wine education sessions for the trade and public.
In 1999 I started up my own marketing business, where I focused on new product design and business development planning. Plus working on wine projects for small family owned boutique wineries.
Through-out this entire period, for a month or more - I was making my own way to visit new and interesting wine regions throughout Europe - adding to my wine experiences and relationships with winemakers. In the late 1990’s I started being invited to be a part of the blending sessions for wineries in both New Zealand and Europe and began making decisions on final wine styles. Over the past 10+ years my involvement with blending and making wines has increased greatly and involves several wineries around the world - achieving great success and awards with wines I have been involved with.
 
     
 
In 2002 I joined the team at Hancocks Wine & Spirit Distributors (based in Auckland, NZ) and spent 2 years working closely with their agency wine portfolio as marketing manager, building brands in both Off & ON-Premise channels around the country. 2004 I worked on re-designing the website at Hancocks and developed their database marketing activity in 2006 - along with designing and developing the Hancocks trade tastings and wine education classes around the country. In the same year I took on the role of; ‘Wine Ambassador’ for over 60 international wine brands distributed in NZ.
In 2009 I decided to take a 3 month sabbatical - to further develop my wine knowledge spending this time in Europe staying with several dynamic wine families and businesses across Europe.

Over the years - I have had numerous opportunities and memorable wine moments; for example one that is interesting to me includes meeting ‘Chef de Cave’ - Dominique Petit at both Krug in the early 1990’s then again more recently as ‘Chef de Cave’ at Pol Roger Champagne and experiencing first hand his interpretation and skill to craft each unique 'house style'.
 Having a private tour (with 3 of my best wine friends) of Chateau Gruaud Larose in St Julien, Bordeaux-France, hosted by the chef winemaker Georges Pauli (an event in itself) - and taking us through a tasting of barrel samples, current and aged vintages.
 Being part of a ‘Vin-Clair’ tasting in Reims, France - with arguably the world’s finest Champagne maker Regis Camus (awarded 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' 7 times - by the International Wine Challenge) - working through the components that make Piper and Charles Heidsieck Champagne.
 
     

 Being invited by Frédéric Jaboulet to experience 3 unforgettable days visiting all of their vineyard sites throughout the Rhone Valley - France, tasting the grapes from the vine, tasting the soils, having explained the fine details of every unique site by the dedicated viticulture team. Culminating with a vertical tasting hosted by their senior winemaker Jacques Desvernois - held in their barrel hall/caves, where they age their wines - and yes this included the iconic Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle.
 Given the opportunity to stand just a few feet away from the extremely talented craftsmen at Riedel (in Kufstein, Austria) - as they skilfully mouth-blew their grape specific stemware.

 In October 2009 - possibly 2 of the best days of my career, were hosting a private tour for Hugh Johnson, and his wife Judy here in Auckland, New Zealand. For two days having Hugh Johnson to talk with about wine, taste the same wines and have Hugh describe each wine in turn, but more importantly - give you the background to the grape, examples of different interpretations of the same grape from different countries, age of vine and winemaking techniques.
Generally when it comes to describing a wine to another - there are two types of people. Those that draw a stick figure - and there are a few who can draw, even paint in colour a personality and even fine detail. But there are a select few and Hugh was the first to do so in his ‘The World Atlas of Wine’ (first edition published in 1971) and is arguably the world’s best - to describe a wine so well that he introduces a 3rd dimension that makes you part of that picture and you start to feel like you are there picking the grapes in the vineyard, during that year.

 Being hosted - by not one, but by 2 renowned family ‘Port Houses’ in the heart of the Douro Valley in Portugal - Quinta de la Rosa & Barros (climbing the breathtaking stone terraces, possibly the 8th wonder of the world) - and tasting some of the finest wines known.
 Being given an incredible honour - one in which I still pinch myself on a regular basis - was being presented with a full barrel of quality Sherry - (that I was asked to write a quote, sign and date 18-7-2011) by the renowned house of Osborne in El Puerto de Santa María, Spain.

     
  
During the past 22+ professional wine years - I have invested in myself and have seen first-hand, the development from breaking soil - right through to sampling the finest wines in old and new wineries across Europe, New Zealand, Australia and other wine regions around the world.
Over the years - with my graphic design skills - I have developed and designed several ‘new’ wine labels/brands that are on the market. For the past few years - I have focused on sharing my knowledge and educating the wine industry, both young and experienced staff on service, winemaking, wine styles and regions from around the world, food and wine matching to name just a few of the wine classes I have designed and run across the country, plus having hosted several events and tastings across Europe.
The past few years my writing has also increased considerably with over 1000 articles and most recently the huge growth and interest around the world of my wine-blog - ‘The Wine Guy’.

So a big thank you - I hope you enjoy my short wine articles for everyday reading and for those in the wine industry - I hope you find this site of value in understanding what is a complex - but ever so interesting industry that is never standing still.

So as I say after every wine tasting: “Wine is at its best when sipped, savoured and shared, with good food and friends” - so good health and happy reading of my future wine articles.