Mt. Difficulty is one of the most prized and respected wine producers in New Zealand. The Estate is composed of 6 vineyards in the picturesque Bannockburn sub-region of Central Otago. Their founding vineyards established in 1992 are among the oldest in this region of New Zealand’s rugged South Island.
The second label we’re tasting an example of here, called ‘Roaring Meg’ was launched in 2004 with a Pinot Noir and a Merlot. A few years later, the Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc followed suit.
The 2013 vintage was particularly suited to the production of Sauvignon Blanc in Bannockburn, Central Otago. Spring was cool but temperatures warmed just before Christmas making for a successful flowering. January was cooler and wetter than usual but February and March were warm and dry allowing the grapes to finish ripening.
The grapes for this wine came from vineyards in the Pisa Sub-Region of the Cromwell basin of Central Otago, and were harvested over a long period between the 12th March and the 4th May.
As pretty much all Sauvignon Blanc wines in New Zealand, the fruit and wine were reductively handled (meaning any contact with oxygen was avoided) during the whole winemaking process to preserve the concentrated primary aromas of Sauvignon Blanc. As a matter of fact, the typical and exuberant fruit flavors of Sauvignon Blanc tend to oxidize and deteriorate quickly in contact with oxygen. It is best to protect them so they make it into the wine, our nose and our palate.
But how good is this famous producer’s second label, in particular with New Zealand’s most iconic grape variety and a great 2013 vintage?
The answer is in the tasting notes:
Nose: As NZ Sauvignon Blanc often do, it smells intensely outside the glass as you’re pouring and contemplating the color, even with your nose in a distance. A promise for a flavorsome wine.
But let’s get the nose in it (the glass that is obviously, not quite into the wine). First nose shows off intense pine tree resin notes, and petrol characters. Digging in comes the pear, the lemon peel, and the passion fruit skin.
With agitation and a bit of time, oxygen opens up the wine pretty quickly (3 to 5 minutes will do), revealing a wealth of exuberant primary fruit aromas. It’s pretty grassy (lemon grass, bison grass even). But a rather sweet grass, and fruity at the same time. The lemon turns confit (sweeter, jamier) as the wine breathes up. Chamomile, dried apricot, white pepper. There is a lot going on, all in a very high aromatic intensity.
The wine definitely has a Riesling touch to it. A ripe Sauv Blanc with fairly ripe Riesling characteristics. Unexpected, but very good. Quite an astonishing nose overall.
Palate: The wine is remarkably smooth on the palate. The acidity is there to support the wine, but doesn’t have the usual crisp and sharpness found in many NZ Sauvignon Blanc. Just a touch of sweetness, and a medium-light body make for an easy and refreshing drink. It could have done with a touch more body to prevent a slightly watery mouthfeel (which might be a good thing actually for a relaxed enjoyment). But hey! This is ‘only’ Mt. Difficulty’s second label after all.
The aromatic intensity however remains very high on the palate. Loads of honey, acacia, citrus, pineapple and much more, together with (still) a little sticky rubber notes. There’s a touch of salivating saltiness in this wine too, suggesting it will go well with food.
Overall: this is a very good wine. An uppercut of aromas on the nose that follows up on the palate. Yet it has a smooth nd refreshing mouthfeel. You’ll enjoy a glass of this before a meal, but you’ll have to go with food after that. The aromatic intensity cries to be balanced out with food, and flavorsome one at that. A fresh, fruity and sweet curry would be ideal, like a green Thai or a similarly approaching style.
This retails at about £12 in the UK, $27 in Canada. It must be impossible to beat the aromatic intensity for the price! The array of flavors is spectacular. A very surprising experience, with this Riesling + Sauvignon Blanc flavor combination in a single wine.
Find Roaring Meg Sauvignon Blanc to buy online at Wine-Searcher.
More info about Mt. Difficulty on their website mtdifficulty.co.nz.