Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Pinot Noir will improve for 7-10 years given optimal vintage and cellaring conditions.
A very mild winter with decent levels of soil moisture kicked the growing season off early. Spring was magnificent with very few winds and no significant frost events. The low level of wind followed by a warm November meant that vines got off to a fantastic start. December was initially warm and settled and this lead to a compact and successful flowering. Immediately following flowering the weather turned and we had a protracted cold wet period which went through the end of December and the whole of January. February arrived and so too did the heat and a nice dry spell. March brought more of the same and the season finished with a warm flourish in April. Interestingly, even though the season finished with a warm flourish, sugar accumulation slowed and we picked at some of our lowest sugar levels ever. The white wines have great purity and aromatic intensity, the latter often the hallmark of a cooler vintage.
The grapes for the wines that carry the Mt Difficulty Bannockburn 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.
Great growing conditions in 2014 saw slightly larger canopies which has led to slightly higher than average yields of approximately 6.5-7 Tonnes /Ha. We started harvesting our Pinot Noir from March 27th and continued through to April 23rd. Where possible we try to co-ferment different clonal lots from the same vineyard, while vineyards are kept separate. Around two thirds of our ferments were de-stemmed only; the remaining third contained 20-35% whole clusters. The must underwent 8-9 days of cold maceration, being hand plunged once daily. The ferments were heated after this and all fermented with indigenous yeasts. The ferments lasted for an average of 8-10 days during which time they were hand plunged once to twice daily with the temperature peaking at 300C. The wine stayed on skins for a further 7-9 days post-dryness, and was plunged once daily 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 late autumn and filtered prior to bottling.