Rippon Vineyard Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Rippon Vineyard was the dream of Rolfe and Lois Mills, pioneers of wine in Central Otago. Experimental vines were planted in 1974, but the bulk of the vineyard was planted in 1982 with Pinot Noir representing 40% of the vineyard. The first commercial vintage was produced in 1988. Winemaker Nick Mills, son of Rolfe and Lois returned to the property in 2002 after four years of work, study and life in Burgundy. He learned his “wine growing” skills at Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Domaine Albert Mann – as well as many others. Nick and his wife Jo, also a well respected winemaker in her own right, work with other members of the Mills family to make Rippon Vineyard & Winery a unique and successful family operation.
The family’s principle goal is to create vins de terroir; wines that are an accurate reflection of their surroundings. It is the micro-life in their soils which – in their ability to metabolize minerals into a form that vines can assimilate – are the link in between plants and the earth. This simple biology is the essential framework in producing a wine which is true to its soil and site. With this understanding comes an absolute respect for the land and life therein and it is for this reason that Rippon is run biodynamically.
Home to the globe’s most southerly vineyards, which are cultivated below the 45th parallel, Central Otago is a true one-of-a-kind wine growing region, but not only because of its extreme location.
Central Otago is more dependent on one single variety than any other region in New Zealand—and it isn’t Sauvignon blanc. They don’t even make Sauvignon blanc there.
Pinot Noir claims nearly 75% of the region’s vineyards with Pinot Gris coming in a far second place and Riesling behind it. This is also New Zealand’s only wine region with a continental climate, giving it more diurnal and seasonal temperature shifts than any other.
The subregion of Bannockburn has enjoyed the most success historically but the area’s exceptional growth has moved to the promising regions of Cromwell/Bendigo and Alexandra districts. Central Otago is known for its fruity and full-bodied Pinot noir. With the freedom to experiment here, growers and winemakers are easily exhibiting the area’s great potential.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”