March 12 2008- Our first winemaker’s dinner featuring Jo Mills from Rippon
Rippon vineyard on the shores of Lake Wanaka was featured in our first ever winemaker’s dinner at the Lodge. Our guests were 2 couples from the US who are great wine buffs.
Pre dinner drink on the terrace overlooking the lake and mountains were a lovely refreshing Osteiner (a variety in its own right, a Riesling/Sylvaner hybrid) matched with smoked salmon blinis.
Dinner started with cayenne pepper calamari with a herb, citrus and strawberry salad (except the citrus, all from our organic garden). This was to showcase 2 Rippon Rieslings – the first, the Rippon Jeunesse young vines Riesling 2006 – or as Jo puts it a wine of youth, the child expressing the essential characteristics of variety if not yet of site. This was placed alongside a Rippon Riesling 2006 which was from vines aged between 15 to 23 years. The contrast was so interesting – by this stage the vines have their roots deep in the schist rock below and the wine truly reflects its terroir; the soil and surroundings from which it came..
What better way to showcase the wonderful Pinot Noirs of the region than a Pinot Noir 2005 with a Jeunesse Young Vines Pinot Noir 2005 to match the peppered venison with a pinot and raspberry with wild thyme jus. Again the contrast between the young vines expressing their pinot noir characteristics, and the older vines with their roots deeper in the ground speaking more of their site was fascinating.
Over dinner we laughed about the difficulties of comprehension that can occur when traveling. Mike was offered ‘homeo’ bread at Blanket Bay the night before he politely inquired what this was? Wholemeal bread with a Kiwi accent!
Meanwhile Jo explained Rippon’s philosophy : everything that goes into the vines come from the land. They do not irrigate and farm the land as an organic and bio dynamic whole.
To finish, a bottle of the amazing Emma Rippon methode champenoise 1995 was paired perfectly with a duo of Chili chocolate and lemon tarts. Made and bottled 13 years ago, the Emma sat on its lees for 11 years before it was finally disgorged and released; something special to round off the evening.
The next day our guests just had to visit the vineyard and see the stunning location and that wonderful compost first hand !