Mt. Difficulty

2010 Central Otago Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir •Mt Difficulty Estate and Bannockburn

New Zealand: Central Otago

Offer Expired:Jun 12, 2013 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

Mission Briefing


Essence of Otago

93 Points ~ Wine Spectator. 92 Points ~ The Age/Sydney Morning Herald 2013 Good Wine Guide Reviews. 5 Stars ~ Geoff Kelly. The list goes on and on.

Today’s Mt. Difficulty 2010 Central Otago Pinot Noir has won more awards (see the extensive list below) than we have ever seen for any other Otago Pinot. No wonder; this wine is truly fantastic!

Intriguing and delicious, this wine’s most striking attribute is its nearly perfect balance. Wines of Otago tend toward earthiness and this wine exhibits plenty of this, with the bright fruits and integrated tannins all working together to give the wine an elegant and harmonious overall appeal.

If you’ve never tried an Otago Pinot Noir, consider this one of the best chances you’ll ever have!

Tasting Profile


Very dark with ruby edges that transition to a darker and slightly opaque heart.


Shy at first, this wine springs to life with just a little coaxing (swirling). As it opens up, it reveals dark cherry, wild mushroom, eucalyptus, cedar and subtle European black licorice (not so sweet).


Very dark on the palate with a ton of stewed, earthy, smoky fruit, led by dark plum, black cherry and giving way to cedar dried fall leaves, wild mushrooms and dark minerals.


Very long and smoky, with concentrated stewed fruit flavors. At the very end, the European black licorice is back. This licorice flavor is completely unsweetened, and even very slightly briny.


Enjoy this deliciously dark wine with a barbecued, Provençal herb-rubbed chicken.

What the Winery Says

Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir 2010

Excellent concentration, with the hallmarks of a warmer season – concentrated ripe dark fruit mingled with a touch of red fruit and a splash of savoury spice! A nicely odd-ball vintage with warm conditions being over-ruled by ongoing winds and rapidly changing weather systems. Low initial bunch numbers coupled with the climatic variability led to yields being down by about 20% on average. A fantastic autumn helped bring the grapes through their last phase of ripening beautifully. Harvest was the latest we have ever experienced with first fruit not being picked till the 8th April. The blocks which are typically early were late, whilst our later blocks were harvested about their normal timeframe, leading to a very compacted busy vintage.

The grapes for the wines that carry the Mt Difficulty Estate label are subject to two strict criteria: they are managed under the umbrella of the Mt Difficulty viticultural team and must be sourced from vineyards situated on the South side of the Kawarau River at Bannockburn. Each has a specific terroir, largely influenced by climate, and offers a variety of soil types from open gravels to heavier clays. They are all low in fertility, and include light sands, clays, loams and gravels. Mt Difficulty Estate Pinot Noir is blended from a range of Bannockburn vineyards, with the majority of grapes coming from earlier plantings which are predominantly clones 5, 6 and 10/5. More recent plantings are a mix of Dijon clones: 113, 115, 667 & 777.
Winemaking Considerations
Low yields this year were primarily due to low bunch numbers coming into the 2010 season. Reasonable conditions at flowering led to low yields, averaging 4.0 Tonnes/Ha. We began harvesting our Pinot Noir slightly later than usual on the 7th April and continued through to the 29th. Where possible we try to coferment different clonal lots from the same vineyard, whilst vineyards were kept separate. The majority of the lots were de-stemmed only; the remaining third contained 22-35% whole clusters. The must underwent 8-9 days of cold maceration during which time it was hand plunged once daily. The ferments were heated after day 8/9 and all fermented with indigenous yeasts. The ferments lasted for an average of 7-8 days during which time they were hand plunged three times per day with the temperature peaking at 330C. The wine stayed on skins for a further 6-8 days post-dryness, and was plunged once to twice a day with increasing ease. When the wine tasted in harmony it was pressed off to barrel where it resided on full lees for 12 months. It underwent malolactic fermentation in the spring, was racked out of barrel in mid spring and filtered prior to bottling.
Tasting Notes
A warm, low-yielding vintage has produced a Pinot Noir displaying ripeness concentration and balance; dark fruits of the forest dominate the aroma and these are underpinned by lifted florals and black cherry, balanced with sweet aromatic spice notes. The wine has a ripe concentrated front palate, which displays these same characters in abundance. The mid palate is fleshy and well textured, and the wine finishes with a combination of ripe, fine-grained tannin, fruit and acidity.
Cellaring Potential
Mt Difficulty Estate Pinot Noir will improve for 7-10 years given optimal vintage and cellaring conditions.
Residual sugar


92 Points - The Age/Sydney Morning Herald 2013 Good Wine Guide Reviews
5 Stars - Geoff Kelly
92 Points - Jeremy Pringle, The Main Course
5 Crackers - Cracka Wine
90 Points - Huon Hooke
Wine Spectator - 93 Points
Rating of 95/100
Mt Difficulty gets 5 Star Rating for 5th Consecutive Year

About the Winery


Today Mt Difficulty Estate is comprised of six vineyards; Templars Hill, Pipeclay Terrace, Menzies Terrace, Mansons Farm, Target Gully and Long Gully – total plantings of 40 hectares protected by the rain shadow of Mount Difficulty in Bannockburn, Central Otago. The region provides New Zealand’s only “continental” style climate combined with unique soils ideally suited for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. It all began in the early 1990’s, when the owners of five newly-planted vineyards in Bannockburn shook hands and decided to work together to produce wine under one label, Mt Difficulty. The handshake bound the owners of Molyneux, Mansons Farm, Verboeket Estate and Full Circle until 2004 when Mt Difficulty Wines Ltd was formed, and the majority of the individual vineyards passed into the ownership of the company.

As a result, Mt Difficulty Wines Ltd now owns some of the oldest vineyards in the Bannockburn sub-region of Central Otago in New Zealand’s rugged South Island. The vine age gives our wines, particularly the Pinot Noirs, extra complexity and concentration. The Bannockburn area is internationally recognised as one of the few places in the world outside Burgundy where the pernickety Pinot Noir variety has found a home. Parts of New Zealand and cooler areas on the western seaboard of the United States are the only other regions where Pinot Noir seems to truly flourish.

The unique microclimate of the Bannockburn area is partially created by the presence of Mount Difficulty which overlooks the southern Cromwell basin, and is the namesake of Mt Difficulty Wines. Mount Difficulty is integral in providing low rainfall and humidity for the region. Bannockburn enjoys hot summers, a large diurnal temperature variation and long cool autumns; conditions which bring the best out of the Pinot Noir grapes. These conditions, along with soils which are ideal for viticulture, provide an excellent basis not only for Pinot Noir, but also for Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay. The soils are a mix of clay and gravels, but all feature a high pH level; grapes produce their best wines on sweet soils.

The Mt Difficulty brand started in 1998 with a very small production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, made by Grant Taylor of Gibbston Valley Wines (now of Valli Wines). Prior to this the Gang sold their grapes to either Gibbston Valley or Chard Farm. The Air New Zealand wine awards in 1999 put Mt Difficulty on the map, with our 1998 Pinot Noir winning a gold medal and the Chardonnay, silver.

In 1999 Matt Dicey came on board as winemaker, and he made the 1999 and 2000 vintage wines at Longburn Winery in Cromwell’s budding industrial area. In 1999 the range was increased to include Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc; while Gewürztraminer and Riesling were added in 2000. Gewürztraminer proved to be too difficult to grow economically (the variety often has a poor fruit-set) and the vines were pulled out prior to 2001. More recently the Mt Difficulty Chardonnay vineyards in Bannockburn have been replaced with other vines, including Chenin Blanc, leaving the Growers Series label (introduced in 2011 to showcase the terroir of other sub-regions) to fly the Chardonnay flag from 2010.

The vintage release in October 2001 marked a progression for Mt Difficulty Wines, with several Single Vineyard wines being seen for the first time. The 2001 white wines included two later-pick Rieslings and a late pick Pinot Gris, plus two Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs from the 2000 vintage. The philosophy of Single Vineyard wines is to display the unique characteristics that are particular to their site. With such a mixture of soils, microclimates and grape clones the difference in the wines from each vineyard site is quite noticeable and significant.

The next major change to the portfolio happened in 2004, when our second label Roaring Meg was launched. The first release consisted of a Pinot Noir and a Merlot from the 2003 vintage, with Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc following on a few years later. The Merlot was a short lived label, only appearing in 2003 and 2004. The varietal proved a little too thick skinned to achieve optimal ripening in Central Otago, but did at least give assistant winemaker Roger deGrauw the chance to hone his Rosé making skills in 2005 before the vines on Templars Hill were replaced by Pinot Gris. The fruit driven, early drinking style of the Roaring Meg wines struck a chord with the market and the brand has been the main source of growth for Mt Difficulty Wines since 2007.

Offer Expired:Jun 12, 2013 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price
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