Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir Masterclass

Along with the Villa Maria Pinot Noirs, we tasted a similar set from Mt. Difficulty. Mt. Difficulty made quite a splash when it came on the scene of Central Otago in the 1990s, hot on the heals of Felton Road. But somehow, it lost its way in the early 2000s, with the wines being less distinctive and prices going up. I was interested to reacquaint myself.

We tasted the 2006-2008 'regular' Pinot Noirs. As with Villa Maria, the 2007 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir stood out. It showed a palate of concentrated red cherry, still quite tight, but showing elegance and silky tannins before a long finish (93 points). The flavour profile of the 2006 Pinot Noir was similar, but less intense, and the finish a little flat (90 points). The 2008 Pinot Noir showed darker fruit, but lacked the length of the 2007 (91 points).

The two single vineyard wines from 2009 impressed. The 2009 Pipeclay Terrace Pinot Noir showed terrific black cherry fruit, elegant, but concentrated. This is quite a masculine wine which finishes with silky tannins (94 points). The 2009 Target Gully Pinot Noir is very different. It is more ethereal, feminine. The dark cherry fruit is matched with a perfume flavour, but the finish is a little short (92 points).

Overall, the Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noirs are pretty wines. They can be very good in top years, which means that only in those years is their pricing (about $70/bottle for the single vineyard wines) justified.

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