All wines that carry the Mt Difficulty Bannockburn label are subject to two strict criteria: they have to be sourced from vineyards situated in a very specific area Bannockburn, south of the Kawarau River and they are to be under the umbrella of the Mt Difficulty management team.
The reasons for these self-imposed constraints are that Mt Difficulty believe this to be an area with very special qualities for growing grapes, and that the management of the vineyard is reflected in the quality of the ultimate product. McFelin Ridge vineyard comprises of 5.55 ha planted in mature Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. This vineyard rises sharply from 290m to 340m and has a mix of clay and deep silt loam soils.
The McFelin Ridge Chardonnay benefits from this unique terroir and reflects the quality typical of Mt Difficulty wines.
The fruit was hand-picked at peak ripeness on the 9th April, this was a cool season and yet we harvested the fruit earlier than we have in the past. The fruit was handled in an oxidative fashion, destemmed and pressed to barrel. We fermented 100% of the juice in barrel with full solids using indigenous yeasts. 11% new French oak was used for the wines maturation. Whilst maturing no lees stirring was utilised. The wine went through a partial (~70%) malolactic fermentation in spring, after which the barrels were stirred for a period.
The wine was racked from barrel and filtered before being bottled, unfined, in March. A very interesting season - overall there was an average amount of heat even though the season had a distinctly cool bent to it. A very warm wet spring kicked off the growing season in style with very early bud-burst. Just as the vines entered into flowering the weather deteriorated with very cool weather being the norm right through late December. This impacted on flowering with lower than average yield.
The riper characters of McFelin Ridge come through with stonefruit and peach notes, followed by a nice line of lime and a background brioche note. There is a supple, textured entry onto the palate with a lovely depth of stonefruit and white peach blossom. The wine has lovely focus and treads a fine line on the palate; brioche notes frame clean acidity on the finish of the wine.
The Mt Difficulty story begins with a handshake. The early 90s saw the owners of five newly planted vineyards in Bannockburn, come together to produce wine under one label. They called themselves the "Gang of Four." The first vintage produced under the Mt Difficulty label was 1998. Today they are comprised of many vineyards that span Central Otago, from Gibbston to Lowburn to Bendigo. The focus is on Pinot noir and Chardonnay, but Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are also produced. Recently, Mt Difficulty have begun experimental plantings of Chenin Blanc and Syrah too. Under the experienced guidance of Winemaker Matt Dicey, this winery continues to turn out incredible wines that are the ultimate expression of Central Otago, year after year.
BOB CAMPBELL MW - THE REAL REVIEW
Bright, fresh, concentrated chardonnay with nutty yeast lees, toast, grapefruit, and spicy oak flavours. Weighty wine with character and bright acidity which adds energy. An assertive and appealing wine with cellaring potential.'
Plenty of concentrated flavor and complexity here. A reductive twist to the nose adds real backbone and interest. The palate is attractively fleshy and fresh with pithy lemon and lime flavors. Nice mineral kick, too.'