Jasper Hill Vineyard in Heathcote Victoria was one of the earliest Australian wineries to practice organic and then biodynamic agriculture. The vineyards, first planted in 1975 on unusually deep red-coloured gravelly loams derived from the rare, Cambrian age basaltic rock, have always been free of synthetic chemicals. All vines are own rooted (ie. not grafted onto non vinifera rootstocks), mulched with organic compost, never irrigated, hand-pruned and hand-harvested.
The two most renowned wines, the Georgia’s Paddock Heathcote Shiraz and the Emily’s Paddock Heathcote Shiraz/Cabernet Franc are named after Ron and Elva Laughton’s daughters. Today Ron works with Emily on the production of seven Jasper Hill wines from three individual vineyards. Total annual production is around 3,500 cases.
Ron, who in a former life worked at Kraft in food technology, is a passionate environmentalist. As he explained to Campbell Mattinson of The Wine Front ‘Chemical free farming is one way out of our climate dilemma and can help heal our planet, because living soils absorb more carbon. Making compost and applying it to our soils at the correct time can ultimately save our soils for future generations – so our backbreaking work of making many tonnes of compost every year is well worth it; keeping our soil alive and regenerating.’ (The Wine Front, 11 September 2010)
In my mind Mattinson’s review below of the Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2009 speaks clearly of the benefits of biodynamic winemaking. As I mentioned my previous post, The Return to the Terroir Tasting, the use of descriptors like fresh, pure, clean and precise are common in reviews of the best examples of biodynamic wines by our most respected wine critics.
Powerful wine. Loud fruit flavours of blackberry and cranberry. These flavours have a lovely juiciness though, adding freshness to what is a rich, uncompromising style. There are subtle signs of spice and clove and smoky, cedar-like oak. It’s a very pure, clean, precise wine – I under-rated it at first, but with some air the detail and precision of the finish, in particular, came to impress me. I would not be surprised if this deserves a higher rating in time. (The Wine Front, 11 September 2010)