Wine Advocate 88 points - The 2012 Merlot is another knockout value wine. Riccardo Cotarella dedicated much of the first part of his winemaking career to Merlot. You can feel his familiarity with the grape here, even on a basic wine like this. Softly rendered oak tones wrap gently around a core of dark berry fruit. The results are delicious. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2016. (Aug 2013)
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Wine maker notes
For this 100% Merlot, Falesco hand-harvests grapes from the Orvieto estate’s best hillside vineyards, where the exposure, setting, and soil are perfect for grape ripening. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel, aged in French oak barriques for six months, and bottled without filtration in order to preserve the wine’s rich organoleptic character.
Pair this wine with choucroute, harissa-based sauces, lamb tagines, or massaman curry.
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.