Review: 2008 Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir Central Otago

Fair's Fair

The first pass at reviewing this wine had this title: "Funky (not Funky Fresh)" and went on to say "Wine Spectator gave this 90 points. We give it a swift kick in the ass." among other unflattering things (read the full original review and the winemaker's comments below).

But Matt Dicey, Winemaker at Mt Difficulty in New Zealand's Central Otago region, with good humor and tact, suggested that this was an anomaly.  Fair's fair, so we tried it again.  And we're glad we did... 

On the second pass we found it to be better, much better.  It's a Pinot reminiscent of what some central coast (of California) vintners were doing before Santa Barbara County was deflowered by Sideways.  Think risk-taking, heady aromatics, spicy liveliness, and a smooth texture.  Its balanced acids make it almost beg for food, but politely.  The fruit doesn't deliver the full, ripe flavors of epic Pinot, but, hell, it's only $20 - and it came from the other side of the world for chrissakes. 

You could buy this wine on Matt's sense of humor alone, but anytime you find an enjoyable Pinot for under $20, you've got a winner.  Read on...

Here's the original review:

The 2006 vintage of this release was head-turning delicious.  What the hell happened here?

While the main flavor components were fine, almost enjoyable even, they couldn't outrun the odor and lingering funk.  No amount of decanting abated the sinister combo of feet and overripe seafood (or was it seafood and overripe feet?) making this a bummer of a buy.

Wine Spectator gave this 90 points.  We give it a swift kick in the ass.  We paid $22, but should've spent that on teeth whitening toothpaste instead.

To which the winemaker replied:
Happy to respond. Funky stale feet and old seafood don’t exactly conjure an image in my mind when I associate them with our 2008 Roaring Meg Pinot Noir. I have tried the wine a few times since receiving your review and didn’t manage to find those associations even after looking hard for them. Then it came to mind that maybe a couple of peaty iodine Islay whiskeys may do the trick and give me that slightly stale seafood kick that you managed to find and even then I just managed to enjoy the whisky’s but there was no carry over in to the wine. So a little flummoxed as to where the aroma etc has come from – we clearly live a long way from the sea in Central Otago with winery being very close to the spot farthest from the sea in New Zealand (clearly that isn’t that far however!). The overripe feet doesn’t bear thinking about as I can come nowhere near that as a wine descriptor! I would have to congratulate you however for a very original and thought provoking review – in fact yours is the first funky review that the 2008 Roaring Meg Pinot Noir has received!
All the best

And after a brief exchange...
Never any point shooting the messenger – although I am always happy for a malt or two!  It may well be an issue with the screwcap, although issues are very rare we typically only get one or two complaints a year and it almost always turns out to be a small knock on the top edge of the seal meaning that the cap is no longer doing its job!  Actually really happy with where this wine is right now – always intended to be more of a early drinking style epitomising the beautiful sweet red berry / cherry flavours that Central can develop. 08 was actually a tricky year in that if anything it was too good a growing year and we had to really work hard in the vineyard to crank the yields back to where we wanted them. I think that this has resulted in this wine having that lovely characteristic lushness on the palate without being over blown or over alcoholic. Just a nice hint of Christmas cake spice to round out the flavour profile.
Matt Dicey

What a decent guy...