2012 Rippon “Rippon Mature Vines” Pinot Noir – Phenomenal Old-Vine Beauty

 

Where The Rippon Magic Happens

 

I first began drinking these phenomenal Pinots with the early 2000s, earning the chance to work directly with the estate a couple years ago with a small release of their 2010s and sensational 2003s. My adoration is well known to friends, family and colleagues alike, with the Wine Advocate on record as well, referring to Nick’s wines as “Pinot Noirs that rekindled memories of those glorious Burgundy 2005’s”. You’ll be as thrilled as I am to hear that Nick’s most well-priced treasure – the 2012 Rippon “Rippon Mature Vines” – has finally landed in the States – ready for your immediate, hedonistic enjoyment!

The site which would eventually become known as Rippon was first planted to 25 various varietals during the 1970s by its founder, Rolfe Mills. Rolfe had spent time in the Douro Valley during the 1940s and the site of schist, rich in foliated mica and quartzite, on his land in Central Otago sparked a great curiosity. Rolfe began experimenting with his soils, isolating a parcel on the western board of Roy’s Bay, Lake Wanaka.

This ancient parcel is Rippon’s north-facing escarpment, and it forms the meeting point of terminal moraines and coarse gravels, all based in schist, where Central Otago’s earliest vines were planted. Rippon’s Mature Vines cuvee is issued from all of the fully developed Pinot vines growing in this expansive parcel. This is where it all began for Rippon, and the fruit of the vine from this parcel bears witness to the perfectionist style Nick (and his father Rolfe before him) is renowned for.

2012 “Rippon Mature Vines”

For those new to these pages, I’d like to take the time to remind folks how vital Nick’s training has been to the continuity of these world class Pinot Noirs. Not only are these the oldest plantings in the region, but they are tended by a man who spent his formative years working the soil and terroirs of Burgundy; he knew how vital his understanding of such things would be. To that end, Nick tenured with de Villaine (Domaine de la Romanée Conti) , and spent time with Jean-Jacques Confuron, Lucien Jacob, Alain Meunier, Nicolas Potel and Domaine de la Vougeraie as well. His are truly the wines of a master craftsman.

 

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A Biodynamic Roundup

biodvineyard

Blog Update #73, 2009: A Biodynamic Roundup

I’ve chronicled our steps towards the building of a new and vastly improved family business through these blog updates, sharing daily discoveries over at my social network page where I’m known by the “handle” of Chambertin.   As we dig down deep this morning to hopefully complete the final chapter of what promises to be one of the most concise and well researched business plans yet penned on the wine business (by us at least), I thought I’d take just a few minutes to compose a brief roundup of my findings.   If you’re new to the world of biodynamic wines, or even if you’re a seasoned veteran, this compilation may come as a surprise.

The world of biodynamic wines is home to a great deal more inhabitants than I ever thought possible, spanning more continents than I once realized.  Having spent 25 years in the wine business, and after working the vineyards in Burgundy for 2 harvests towards the earning of my Sommelier certification, I am keenly aware of the importance of biodynamic wines to the French.  In Italy, too, there are a number of wine-makers practicing the art, offering the consumer some of the world’s most unique and individualistic vinous specimens. 

But what has come as most surprising to me, perhaps due in large part to my prior admitted bias, are the number of certified “biodynamic” producers from regions once considered far too “modern” for the incorporation of these idealistic measures.  Without getting too far into the whole philosophy, for this brief essay is certainly not intended as a text book on the intricacies of the how’s and why’s of Bio-D, let’s just say that to many in the world of “modern” wine making, the theories of applying various teas to the compost and vines, preceded by burying cow horns full of manure in ones vineyard are viewed as, well, unnecessary (to put it mildly).  But try convincing Madame Leroy that Bio-D is unnecessary.  Or, for that matter, attempt a conversation on the benefits of “modern” versus biodynamic with the likes of Chapoutier or the masterful Zind Humbrecht.  These three masters of their universes would verbally run a “modern” wine-maker, with their pesticides and chemical treatments, right out of the room.

So, as mentioned, it has come as most surprising to me to now find numerous once-modern-dominated wine regions becoming ever increasingly sprinkled with biodynamic wineries.  Places such as California’s Napa Valley now offer we lovers of the biodynamic juice a handful of experimental-minded spirits.  Folks dancing with the moon and burying the horns while still living among neighbors who preach the need for fungicides and tractors include such visionaries as Grgich Hills (who began converting more than a decade ago and now fully practices biodynamic principles) and Robert Sinskey.  Granted that’s not a lot of folks considering the thousands of vineyards in the land of plenty, but hey, until a few days ago, I thought NO ONE was Bio-D way out west.

Another region I never considered potentially biodynamic-ready or willing was Australia.  Sure, I’d heard that several estates were “experimenting”, or that they were singling out “portions of their vineyards” for converting.  Hey, I’m experimenting with Bio-D, too.  Every time we brew a batch of home-made tea, we save the leaves and sprinkle them in the garden.  But that certainly doesn’t qualify me as a “biodynamic winery”, let’s be serious, OK?  But just as I was stunned to discover the folks in California, so too was my surprise as I came across a handful of truly Bio-D purists from the land down under.  In particular, again, way out west, my research uncovered one winery specifically that I’m most eager to try: Cullen, from the Margaret River region.  Having been certified biodynamic since 2004, this sounds like precisely the type of estate whose wines I’d like the chance to review.

I suppose the point of this research roundup is as much a reminder as it is a compilation.  A reminder to continue watching the horizon for upcoming releases in the ever expanding world of biodynamic wines.  And a brief compilation of what folks can expect from our new family business as we move forward with our plans of a gourmet wine shop in Richmond Virginia:

(Below is a very, very, very short list of some of the producers you will find in our new venture.  Some we have already engaged in conversation, others we will begin discussions with soon.  This is the first of MANY lists to come…)

  • Domaine Rossignol Trapet (Burgundy)
  • Coulee de Serrant (Nicolas Joly) (Loire Valley)
  • Montirius (Rhone Valley)
  • Lopez de Heredia (Rioja)
  • Terras Gauda (Rias Baixas)
  • Cotturi Winery & La Cruz de Comal (Toni Cotturi) (CA, TX)
  • Paul Dolan (CA, Mendocino)
  • Shinn Estate Vineyards (NY, Long Island)
  • Cullen (Margaret River, AU)
  • Nikolaihof (Austria)
  • Domaine Jean Bourdy (Jura)
  • Clos Saron (CA, Sierra Foothills)
  • Antiyal (Maipo)
  • Movia (Slovenia)
  • Lark Hill Winery (Canberra, AU)
  • Seresin Estate (NZ)
  • Millton (NZ)

I trust you’ll enjoy the ride as much as we’ve enjoyed this initial building process.  Bringing the world of biodynamic producers to the eager and curious wine lovers of America will be our passion as much as it is our dream and our job.  Stay tuned, we’ve only just begun!

All the best in wine and life,

Christopher Massie
Diplome D’Honneur de Sommelier