Jul 7, 2012

Cellar Door at Mt. Difficulty, NZ

Situated in Bannockburn outside of Cromwell, and a nice drive from the Queenstown/Arrowtown area along the Kawarau River is Felton Road, home to several world class wineries.
For this adventure I chose to visit Mt. Difficulty, partly because I had tasted (aka drank) a 2006 Roaring Meg earlier in my travels, and partly because it has a really cool name.  To paraphrase a quote from the movie Johnny Dangerously, "you do know your name is an adverb, right?"

The real 'difficulty' was raising Marino sheep on the steep, rocky slopes of the mountain.  And nothing speaks the Southland like a merino jersey (USA translation – sweater, Aussie translation - Jumper).  But get rid of the sheep and plant grapes in that unforgiving landscape and now you have a New Zealand trifecta!  Great wine, LOTR country (Lord of the Rings for those ring neophytes), and Gold country (gold rush of the 1860’s).  Did I mention it is beautiful as well?

Bannockburn enjoys a semi continental climate with hot summers, and long cool autumns.  Along with soils of clay and gravel, these are excellent growing conditions for Burgundy grapes.  Pinot Noir excels here, as well as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Riesling.  OK, you got us.  Riesling is from Germany in the Rhine region.
Travelling with friends, we arrived at the cellar door to be greeted by Cheryl.  The tasting area was new, and very inviting.  There is also a restaurant, although it was closed when we arrived.  We loved the cost of tasting – “a gold coin” – ($1 or $2).

Cheryl started us of on the Rieslings – a dry and a sweet.  Both were delicious (7 and ***) and we came away with a couple of bottles.  Good for drinking now (with friends!) or cellaring for several years. 
But I had really come for the famous Central Otago Pinot Noir’s so we dove right in!  First up the 2010.  Very nice, but also young.  Showed lots of promise so Kiwi took one home for safe keeping (7 and ***).  Then the 2010 Growers Series Packspur.  Wow, loved that, an 8 and **.  Still young and again, I took one to be sure it would be OK down the road.  Well someone has to check on stuff like that and don't worry that Koala bloke is there to help!

Time was short, and the sun was turning the hills and valley golden around us, but still Cheryl was able to rustle up a cheese plate for us and opened a 375 ml bottle of 2009 Pinot noir.  Delish! What a difference a year in the bottle made. 
From the facility, the service, to the view and the great wine, this Kiwi was happy.  And happy Kiwis buy wine.  You should too!
So if find yourselves down near Felton Road stop in to some Cellar doors and have a taste.

Make sure you stop by Mt Difficulty and tell em we sent you!

Happy Tasting Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala


  1. Thanks for the kind words Kiwi & Koala, it's lovely to hear that you enjoyed your visit. I've been enjoying your blogs since you posted that slightly elderly bottle of Meg on twitter.

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