Te Mania - Nelson, New Zealand

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Another reason why Organic/Biodynamic is good

Read this intersting article by Patrick Schmitt.


Soil-based bacteria – not soil type – may be key to understanding why certain sites produce specific wine styles, according to research published yesterday.

Soil-based bacteria affects wine style and vine disease resistance, according to a new study. Picture credit: Horticulture Week

In a paper posted on 24 March 2015 in mBio the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, it was noted that bacterial communities from vineyard soils were found on a vine’s grapes, and that such communities on the berries “have the potential to influence the organoleptic properties of the wine, contributing to a regional terroir”.

In essence, the study showed that it is the soil that serves as a vital source of vine-associated bacteria, and that it is both the nature of the soil, and its management, that affect the character of the bacteria on the berries – otherwise known as the vine microbiome.

Consequently, it has been suggested that by managing the soil in a particular manner, it could be possible to influence the flavour of the wine, or create a specific terroir.

Indeed, Dr Paul Chambers, the research manager in biosciences at The Australian Wine Reasearch Institute, says that the role of the microbiome could be crucial to understanding the influence of site specifics on wine flavour, although he adds that the science is currently poorly understood.

“If a viticulturist can shape the style of wine in a controlled manner by managing the microbiome of her or his vineyard in a targeted way, it opens the way for winemakers to more effectively shape their wines to meet market demands,” he said.

The research also showed that “Vine-associated bacterial communities may play specific roles in the productivity and disease resistance of their host plant”.

As a result, Jack Gilbert, a microbial ecologist at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois said, “Just the same as the human biome plays a role in health, bacteria have intricate associations with plants that affect disease resistance, stress tolerance and productivity.”

Indeed, earlier this year db broke news of a trial at Reims University that sees bacteria used to stimulate the vine’s defence mechanisms to a botrytis infection by thickening the plant’s cell walls.

The same university is also investigating a technique called “biocontrol” which sees the application of natural beneficial micro-organisms that can be taken up from the roots and diffuse in the vine to help it protect itself against diseases, as well as stimulate growth.

Nevertheless, when it comes to the role of soil in grape berry development, and subsequently wine flavour, the major influence stems from the water holding capacity of the soil – which can benefit berry maturation by allowing for rapid drainage in wet areas, or storage in dry climates.

However, the findings published in mBio endorse a move by quality-minded producers to nurture soil-based organisms to enhance site-specific characters in their wines. For example,Oliver Humbrtecht MW told td back in 2011 that it was beneficial micro-organisms in the soil which help the roots break down and take up minerals in the surrounding soil, contributing to a clearer expression of vineyard terroir in his Rieslings.

The research:

The team of researchers, which included winemaker Gilles Martin, looked at four closely related Merlot plants growing in five different vineyards across a small stretch of the North Fork region of Long Island, New York.

For each location, they sampled the soil, roots, leaves, flowers and grapes throughout a growing season. Then, the team used shotgun metagenomic sequencing to characterize all the bacterial species found on each part of the grapevine.

Next, the team compared the New York grapes’ microbiome to those associated with Merlot grapes from Bordeaux, France, and crushed Merlot grapes from California. All three hosted similar bacteria species.

Richmond Plains on Vintage Roots' Blog

Proud to be in this interesting blog by Mark Slaney.

Mark-Slaney“I forget the name of the place, I forget the name of the girl but the wine was Chambertin”, said Hilaire Belloc. I was in a wine tasting decades ago: I can remember it was in an Oxford College but I forget which. I can’t remember who I was with. I can however remember one wine. Correction I remember the wines of one particular wine-maker. There were a dozen others but I have forgotten them. The wines I remember were those of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht. There was a very tall chap pouring the wines and he spoke really good English which is a God-send for me because my French is dire. The impact each white wine he poured me was as powerful as a shard of sunlight pouring through a stained glass window. It turned out the tall chap was Olivier Zind-Humbrecht. Robert Parker, perhaps the most influential wine writer in the world, would years later write that Olivier might be “the finest wine-maker in the World”.

It was that moment in that dusty Oxford College hall tasting those wines that began my conversion to organic and ultimately bio-dynamic wines. Olivier has chosen this path for his wine estate. I went on over the years to get to know Olivier and his wines better and our paths have crossed on numerous occasions. I find him affable, easy-going and great company. The esteem his wines are held in by wine critics has gone from strength to strength. My fascination for bio-dynamic wines has continued to grow but to be honest I still haven’t got a clue how this wine-making system really works. I have bought copies of Rudolph Steiner’s writing but they are way over my head. What I have managed to do though with thirty years of commercial wine buying under my belt is to drink, sorry taste, more and more bio-dynamic wines and I am now certain of two things which I regard as unassailable facts. First is that I like the flavours of these wines, almost regardless of what country they come from or what grape variety is used. Secondly is that the following morning, I wake feeling clearer headed than when I drink wine that is not made organically or bio-dynamically.

I started this scribbling with reference to Chambertin because the most recent organic wine that I have tried was a Gevrey Chambertin Aux Echezaux 2011 from Domaine Michel Magnien. Doubly nice it is for sure to enjoy Chambertin and enjoy it when it is organically made. This wine is not one of those delicate, strawberry scented, intellectual style of red Burgundies but is rich, dark and earthy with bramble fruits and autumn woodland walk smells filling the glass. Satisfying now, I’d try to leave this vintage for a couple more years to develop as there is ageing potential here. A meaty wine for hearty food, it stands at the other end of the spectrum to an organic pinot noir I tasted from Richmond Plains estate in New Zealand.

I was drawn to Richmond Plains when I stumbled across their rosé and I thought – hang on a minute, blanc de noirs pinot noir. Now there’s something I’ve never tried. So this is rosé but not as we know it, as Spock might say. I remember tasting the wine and thinking two things. First, was that what I tasted was hardly what the wine-maker described as the taste of the wine on the back label. Second was that the wine was so delicious. It was as satisfying as a glass of cool, mountain water after a long walk over the hills. I put the wine on the wine list of a restaurant which I look after and everyone who tries it falls in love with it. A seductive little number it certainly is. It is perfect with salmon, perfect before a BBQ, perfect for a romantic dinner a deux, perfect as a striking aperitif and perfect to sip when you contemplate what wine you want to drink next.


So if their Blanc de Noirs is that scrummy what does their Pinot Noir taste like? Well, as I say, it’s at the other end of the spectrum to the manly Gevrey Chambertin from Michel Magnien. Richmond Plains Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable. It is silky soft, delicately perfumed and what can I say… luscious.


Buying wines for a restaurant when you do the job properly, to my mind, necessitates shopping around and dealing with numerous different wine merchants. I have been buying wines for restaurants for thirty years. Looking after the wine list for the Horseshoe Restaurant with Rooms at Eddleston is a bit of a personal indulgence. The restaurant is tiny, just ten tables and eight bedrooms but the wine list has over two hundred wines. Forty of these are organic or bio-dynamic. Building up this side of the wine list has been made so much easier since I have started buying from Vintage Roots and personally I think bravo to Neil and Lance for deciding to go a hundred percent down this “natural” path. It’s certainly made my wine buying life a lot easier.


I hope to have another opportunity to tell you about some of the other great wines Vintage Roots  have found and I’ve had the pleasure to select and if you fancy meeting up for a weekend of appreciating fine, organic wines up in a wee restaurant with rooms in Scotland, drop Neil and Lance a line and suggest that they ask me to organise something.

Mark Slaney is the Managing Director of Mark Slaney Associates Ltd who provide commercial wine buying advice. He is also a director of Border Hospitality Ltd and General Manager at the Horseshoe Restaurant with Rooms, Eddleston, Peeblesshire. “Tasting Notes” a look back at thirty years of wine buying and packed full of amusing anecdotes and suggestions for good wines today from off the beaten track is available from Amazon, selected book retailers and wine merchants.

Trophy Best Sauvignon Blanc

Richmond Plains has won the Trophy for the best Sauvignon Blanc at the 2012 Sydney International Wine Competition.

Our Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was awarded the Trophy ahead of other top gold medal winning wines from around the world.  This is also the first New Zealand organic and biodynamic wine to be awarded this major honour at this show.

We were very excited to be awarded a Gold Medal and to be selected as one of the top 100 entrants to this show (which is limited to 2000 entries from around the world) as well as being awarded a Blue Gold for excellence in food and wine matching.  Wining the Trophy is certainly the icing on the cake.

The Sydney Show differs from many as it not only awards the best tasting wines, they are also judged to find out which wines best match food.  The Blue Gold is awarded for food matching.  The Richmond Plains Sauvignon Blanc was paired with Celebrity Chef Michael Manner's goats curd tartlet with asparagus and herbs.

Read more in this article.

A Twist on the Aging Question

Click on this link to read this interesting article by Harwey Steiman.

Richmond Plains wines on Clean Green Living site

On the interesting site of Clean Green Living (www.cleangreenliving.blog.com) has been published a couple of reviews of our wines. To read it click on this link.


Richmond Plains in another New Zealand scoop

Richmond Plains wines in another New Zealand scoop has just released the 2011 Monarch Rosé in New Zealand’s lightest 750ml glass bottle. Weighing in at a mere 325 grams and at just over 1kg full of wine – it’s lighter than some other bottles empty!

It has been a big challenge to find suitable lightweight bottles in New Zealand. The lightest bottles we have been able to use previously  were 40% heavier. So these really do make a big difference to the environment and our global footprint. The bottles are 20 mm shorter which means it is possible to stack more cases onto a pallet and fit more into a container. Taking fewer resources to produce and transport, reducing fossil fuels consumption significantly.  They are also much lighter for to handle with a case weighing 1.5 kg less at just 13kg.

Our Richmond Plains Monarch Rosé is named after the Monarch Butterfly.  The presence of butterflies like frogs is a measure of the health environments around the world. Butterflies are found throughout our vineyard and are symbolic of the care we take in looking after the environment as we work with nature to produce lovely wines that are good for you and the planet.  Richmond Plains sponsors the New Zealand Butterfly Trust which aims to protect and encourage people to look after such beautiful insects and the environment  (www.monarch.org.nz).

Golden double dip!

Richmond Plains Sauvignon Blanc 2011 has been awarded both a Blue-Gold and a Top 100Gold at the prestigious Sydney International Wine Competition.

The Sydney International Wine Competition is Australia’s top wine competition.The Top 100 Gold recognises the special quality of the wine as well as selection as one of  the best gold medal wines entered in the competition across all classes.

Gold medal winning wines are also assessed on their compatibility with food for which Blue Gold medals are awarded. Wines are assessed by a panel of fourteen judges from Australia, New Zealand, and the UK which included six Masters of Wine. The show’s popularity means entries for this competition are capped at 2,000.The full results of the 2012 competition, including Trophy Winners, will be announced at the Presentation Banquet in Sydney on Saturday 25 February 2012.

Grape-vine sculpture exhibition

Richmond Plains and Te Mania Wines, in partnership with Arts Council Nelson, have launched what is thought to be New Zealand's first grape-vine sculpture exhibition with the aim of creating a range of affordable art works, including a giant rugby ball, for cup visitors. Read more about it in this article.

The winning cut

Kris Cumpstone Vineyard Manager at Richmond Plains proved he was a cut above the rest winning the Nelson region Silver Secateurs grape vine pruning competition, held on Saturday July 30th. 

Points are awarded for technique, quality of work done and speed.  “I wasn’t the fastest but scored highest overall, winning on the quality of work done” said Kris.

“The key to good vineyard management is balance”, says Richmond Plains owner Lars Jensen.   “Kris prunes our vines so that they produce just the right amount and quality of fruit to make great wine.  In an organic vineyard like ours we look for balance by working with nature.”

Kris will fly to Auckland to compete in the national Silver Secateurs competition in Auckland at Bragato, the national grape growers conference in late August.  He will be competing against regional winners from all over New Zealand for the honours and prizes. For winning the Nelson competition Kris received a Bahco grape vine pruning equipment prize package courtesy of Fruitfed Supplies to use at the nationals.

Back to nature at Richmond Plains

Click on this link to read this interesting article by Deborah Walton-Derry and Peter Morice.

Richmond Plains backs up golden medals with trophy in Hong Kong

Hot on the heels of hearing that Richmond Plains won two of the first ever gold medals awarded to organic wines at the Hong Kong International Wine Challenge 2011, the competition has just announced the Nelson producer as the trophy winner for Best of Show Organic & Biodynamic wine!

Richmond Plains Sauvignon Blanc 2010 has just been awarded the    inaugural Best of Show Organic & Biodynamic trophy at Asia’s most prestigious wine competition.

On top of this, the wine also won a gold medal as Gentlemen’s Favourite, where the male judges’ award their preferred wines over all categories.

Richmond Plains also won a gold medal for the Chardonnay 2009, while Richmond Plains Pinot Noir 2010 and Richmond Plains Blanc de Noir 2010 both achieved silver medals.

Gold for Organic Winery

Click on this link to read Peter Watson article about our latest gold medals.

Richmond Plains wins gold medals for organic wine in Hong Kong

We are very proud of this achievement and thought you might like us to share our latest success reading this article.

Monty Waldin’s visit at Richmond Plains 

Richmond Plains is proud to have hosted Monty Waldin, world renowned author, biodynamic wine writer and TV presenter. Click on this link to read the article that Jon Mortan wrote about this important visit.

How I became New Zealand’s first biodynamic wine grower

Lars Jensen explains how he became New Zealand's first biodynamic wine grower. Read the article written by Rosalind Le Bas Walker and published in NZ Life & Leisure.

Richmond Plains featured on Organic Living with The Hippy Gourmet

We are proud to have been featured on Organic Living with The Hippy Gourmet USA program. Click on this link to see us (3 min clip).

First Richmond Plains Riesling  

We have released our first Riesling.  We are very proud of this delicious wine which is our current favourite.

A youthful wine with a lovely perfumed bouquet displaying lemon/lime, floral and a touch of candied apple notes. The palate is intensely flavoured showing gentle sweetness and lush mouthfeel with the bright acidity providing excellent balance and harmony. The wine finishes long and delicious. 93 Points ***** Stars

- Sam Kim, Wine Orbit

First New Zealand wine made from Certified Biodymanic grapes

Richmond Plains wines from Nelson have become the first New Zealand vineyard to be certified biodynamic as of May 27th 2008.

The first wine to be made from certified biodynamic grapes is the 2008 ARIES made from Pinot Noir grapes.  Aries has now been released for sale and is available from the cellar door and selected wine stores for $29.90 (click here to order).

Richmond Plains has always been certified organic so managing the vineyard biodynamically was a natural progression.

If you can make a delicious wine that’s good for the environment and for you, then why not!

Good wine a matter of balance

Reporter Laura Basham looks at what makes Richmond Plains different from conventional wine growing. Read the article > Good wine a matter of balance

TV3 – Going organic

TV3 news recently visited Richmond Plains to learn more about going organic and talks to owner Lars Jensen.  To find out more click on the link on the left side of this page to view the short 2 minute video.

Cuisine**** Stars Blanc de Noir

Cuisine awarded our Blanc de Noir 4 stars from its tasting of ‘Other White Wines’.

Our Blanc de Noir (translation - white from black) is a special wine.  Specially selected Pinot Noir grapes are gently pressed to squeeze out the juice and then fermented in stainless steel tanks just like white wine.  What does it taste like?...  Aromatic with citrus blossom, green pear and biscuit characters on the nose.  Full and fruity with attractive pear, baked apple and nectarine flavours.  It has very attractive tropical and lime blossom characters with an exotic spicy finish.  – Delicious!