Voyageur Journal

Pinot Noir

Viewing posts tagged Pinot Noir

#labellust – Burn Cottage

Burn Cottage is seriously awesome stuff. Made in Central Otago, New Zealand – everything about this wine is cool – the people behind it, the labels and most importantly the wine itself.

On visiting the property it was easy to see the cool-factor runs far deeper than its label. An immaculate bio-dynamically run property, producing phenomenal Pinot.


I sat down with owner Marquis Sauvage to learn more about them and their story.

VS: The Burn Cottage label is very distinctive, its unique and unlike any other. How did you decide on the visual imagery for the brand?

BC:  In meeting with our designer we went through a bunch of different types of imagery. They were able to get a feel for what it was that I was looking for, and the sort of imagery I like.  I am a huge fan of Heavy Metal, so those type of images come through in both The Burn Cottage and Cashburn Labels.  We also wanted to relay the message that we are a biodynamic vineyard, and make our wine with minimal intervention.   The story of The Green Snake and Beautiful Lilly just really seemed to cover all bases.


Marquis in the centre…

VS: Can you tell us the story behind the ‘Green Snake and Beautiful Lily’ fairytale and how it is relevant to Burn Cottage.

BC: The Green Snake and Beautiful Lilly is a fairy tale by Goethe. Rudolf Steiner, the father of Biodynamics, was inspired by this story so we thought it fitting to use the story as inspiration for The Burn Cottage Label.  The fairy tale is about how man should co exist within the natural world.  The images depicted on The Burn Cottage Label, are all represented in the fairy tale itself.   i.e: the snake, lilly, wise men, etc.


VS: Who did you work with to design the labels?

BC: We worked with some great wiz kids at a company called Mash Designs out of Adelaide Australia.  They have done some other fabulous wine labels.  In fact we are currently developing a new label with them at the moment, so stay tuned.  Dom there has done a great job for us.


VS: Was it the same people that designed your labels that also did your website?

BC: Mash also came up with the our website as well, which is super cool!  However, I may be biased.


VS: Do you think that the way wine looks/is packaged affects people’s perception of the actual wine?

BC: We wanted to come up with a package that was unique and grab peoples attention.  However, as with all great wine, the proof is in the bottle, so that had to be there too.  I think it would be difficult to “pull off,” a label like Burn Cottage if the quality of the wine was not there.  I think sometimes people see Burn Cottage as a cool label, and are surprised that the quality of the pinot is also there in the bottle.


VS: Were you trying to attract a specific demographic to your wines when you designed the labels or are they more a reflection of you, and this is what you are trying to express

BC: No, we were not going after a certain group of wine drinkers with the label.  We were being selfish, and doing what we liked!  It is the same way we make our wine.   We hope people like the label and the wine, but if not, that is ok too.  We always joke, that there is no middle ground with our label.  You either love it or hate it.  Which is fine by us either way.   We also wanted to take the pretension out of wine as well with our label, and make it accessible to all.

To get your hands on some visit and to get in touch with their awesome designers go to



Worth Celebrating!

In October last year, I was very fortunate to attend the events Rippon winery had planned to celebrate ‘100 years on the land and 30 years of wine growing’ in Wanaka, Central Otago. The long history of this momentous anniversary can be summarized by knowing that in 1912 Sir Percy Sargood purchased a vast tract of land that encompassed much of the Wanaka township as it is today and in 1982 Percy’s grandson Rolfe Mills realized his dream of wine growing on the family land and planted the first commercial vines at Rippon with his wife Lois. Rolfe had returned from the war and recognized similarities in the soil of the 5 vineyards still planted today and the schist of the Douro. Currently there are just under 2000 hectares of vines planted throughout Central Otago and the region is known globally for producing some of the world’s best Pinot Noir.

100 years on the land, 30 years of wine growing.

100 years on the land, 30 years of wine growing.

“We started celebrating back in 2012, the centenary of Percy’s purchase of the land,” explains Nick Mills, Rippon’s winemaker and Percy’s great grandson, “but we have been waiting until the release of the 2012 Pinot Noirs to get the party really started. It’s only fitting that we should toast these achievements with the wines from that landmark year.”

This is where the journey of my magical experience begins. The tasting was held at Rippon Hall where I sat just behind Lois (Lolo) who precedes Rolfe, with him having sadly passed away in 2000. Just the thought of being in the same room as one of the people who pioneered a wine region that is so highly regarded today blows my mind. It’s the equivalent to meeting the people who first planted vines in Tuscany and Burgundy centuries ago. Its one of the reasons I love visiting New Zealand, that as a sommelier today you can still meet the founders of the whole country’s wine industry – the people that decided we should plant vines on this very land and that within 30 years they have been able to establish themselves as a wine making nation and some of the most well-known producers on the planet, just meeting them makes you feel as though you are a part of history.

A religious experience in progress.

A religious experience in progress.

The historic significance of attending a tasting that stretches back to the first vintage of a winery that is the same age as me was almost overwhelming. I have known the wines of Rippon for over a decade and have been friends with the Mills family for the last 5 years, the emotions are hard to describe, but in my tasting notes I wrote ‘Its like becoming great friends with someone when they are 30 and being given the opportunity to travel back in time with them through all of their significant life events or achievements. I feel viscerally connected to them and understand exactly why the wines being produced today are the way they are – all the pieces fit together.’ I have to applaud the Mills family in bearing all, every vintage from 1989 to 2012, except 1996 and 2002, because there simply wasn’t any in the cellar, were shown. Those in great, good and average condition were poured, which only further developed my connection to the wines. Just like a person’s history, not every year can be stellar, and we saw the wines go through their tumultuous adolescent phase and come out the other side as grown men – complex, layered and cohesive. I cant imagine how rewarding the tasting must have been for Lois, the matriarch of Rippon, having the opportunity to see the last 30 years of her life in the glasses in front of her. Similarily for several of the wine makers in the room, 4 out of the 7 wine makers who have made Rippon over the last 3 decades were there. All of whom today make some of Central Otago’s other great Pinot Noirs – Blair Walter from Felton Road, Rudi Bauer from Quartz Reef, Dean Shaw from Two Paddocks and Russell Lake a consultant to several Otago wineries, who along with Lolo told us about the vintages they contributed to, their connection to the winery and how their time at Rippon framed the wines they make today. Perhaps the most emotional sentiment came from Duncan Forsyth of Mt Edward, usually the joker, it made his words so much poignant as he whole-heartedly spoke about how pivotal Rippon is to all the producers of Central Otago and how hopes that one day, he too will be able to sit surrounded by friends and family at an equally momentous tasting of his own. Each one of them were in agreeance however, that under Nick’s careful watch from 2003 the wines are more cohesive than ever with an unmistakable mineral energy.

Lois and the boys!

Lois and the boys!

Nick Mills, the current caretaker of the family’s legacy spoke of his time in Burgundy and how it draws you into the ground with its earth bound energy and how the introduction of biodynamics to the Wanaka vineyards helped them to focus down and achieve this at Rippon.

As we sat in the sun drenched Rippon Hall, looking out over what is arguably the world’s most beautiful vineyard, there was something very special about the light in the room, the wines glistened in their glasses and I have no doubt that Rolfe was there in spirit, very proud of what he and his family had achieved and all that they plan to do in the future.

Here’s to the next 30 years of wine making Rippon, the thought of being at the 60th anniversary tasting makes me giddy with excitement.



What a line up!

What a line up!

To learn more about Rippon and their amazing wines visit their website

To find out where you can buy Rippon wines near you, drop me an email and ill point you in the right direction

Photos by Mickey