MT. DIFFICULTY, BANNOCKBURN PINOT NOIR
CENTRAL OTAGO, NEW ZEALAND 2018
The terroir-driven wines of Mt. Difficulty are among the most famous New Zealand Pinot Noirs in the world, and for our money represent some of the absolute best value in Pinot Noir to be had in the marketplace.
A pioneer in Central Otago, and one of the most respected wineries in Bannockburn, Mt. Difficulty sources its grapes from some of the oldest and best-sited vineyards in the country to produce a rich, silky, and complex Pinot Noir that marries New World fruit and freshness with Old World character and elegance. At one time, we could say that Mt. Difficulty was one of the best-kept secrets out there, but no more – critics and collectors alike have touted its excellence to the point that you cannot be a serious lover of Pinot Noir today without knowing about the exceptional bottlings they produce year in and year out.
All of which is to say that we are thrilled to have the opportunity to share this benchmark Pinot Noir with you this morning, and for a steal of a deal at less than $34 a bottle!
Not only is this a low-yield wine, with only the best vintages (as 2018 was) selected for bottling, but it’s also a single-vineyard wine, produced from small parcels of the estate’s oldest vineyards.
It’s that degree of conscientiousness and craft that results in a wine of enormous complexity and precision, and one with so much terroir character in the glass.
James Suckling pretty well summed up the drinking experience, calling it “intense, rich, [with] some sappy and spicy elements on offer, too,” and singling out the “smooth, fleshy and fluid texture with bright red cherries sitting up on the finish.”
In our tasting, we found it to be powerful and brooding, and were struck – and charmed – by the way it finished with so much elegant softness.
Mt. Difficulty is the very definition of a passion project. And one that has kept on keeping on for more than a quarter century. In the early 1990s, four New Zealand vineyard owners (from Molyneux, Manson’s Farm, Verboeket Estate, and Full Circle) came together with nothing more than a handshake to produce wine from five vineyards under a single label. This “Gang of Four,” as they called themselves, went on to purchase additional vineyards, in other parts of the country, and even branched out into different varietals. But Bannockburn retains its pride of place in the portfolio, and Pinot Noir is the calling card.
Terroir remains, as ever, of primary importance, with the goal being to produce what winemaker Matt Dicey calls “a full expression” of the soil and air. Dicey came aboard nearly 25 years ago to help build the winery, and is, as much as anyone, responsible for the continuity and consistency of the winemaking over the years.
The 2018 was produced with great specificity and care in the cellar, as Dicey notes: “We co-fermented different clonal lots from the same vineyard, while keeping the vineyards separate. About 75% of those ferments were de-stemmed only; the remaining quarter contained 15-60% whole clusters.” It was fermented with indigenous yeasts, remained on skins even after drying, and rested on full lees for 12 months. It underwent malolactic fermentation in the spring, and was filtered but not fined before bottling.
If that veers too much into the technical, just know this: the result of all this care in the cellar is a supple and layered wine, one that unfurls itself slowly but surely, becoming more appealing with each passing minute.
This is sure to bring you many hours of pure drinking pleasure, and, for the price, is one you should seriously consider stocking up on. We’ll have a supply on hand for the next week only, so act now!
*Offer NOT valid in-store. This offer is made pre-arrival, with wines estimated to be delivered to your preferred store in Summer 2022. With the supply chain issues that we are seeing globally, there may be some unforeseen delays which could affect the ETA. All sale prices are the lowest available at Total Wine & More and ONLY valid through Concierge Sales. No further discounts or coupons may be applied. Offer not valid in CT, GA, IN, KY, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NY, or TN. This offer is for ONE WEEK, or until sold out, and will expire on Tuesday, April 26 2022.