At first glance it looks like a fairly typical example of a kiwi pinot. Admittedly the label is quite understated for a kiwi red, almost a cross between a burgundy and a modern claret label, with a large "watermarked" M forming the backdrop to the lettering. It comes with a cork, which is becoming increasingly rarer from New Zealand, but that is really where its unremarkableness ends. For this is no ordinary wine, this is something quite special and quite unique, for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that the winemaker, C.P. Lin is blind.
Mountford's vineyards were planted in 1991 with the first vintage being made in 1995. In 98 they built a small winery at the base of the gently sloping limestone hills. Their 15 acres (approx 3 hectares) of vineyard is planted to an eclectic mix of burgundy clones and mutations of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which viticulturalist Gerald Atkinson says best complement the burgundian nature of the soil and climate. The various parcels of vines are all harvested individually and vinified seperately before being brought together by CP Lin to create some of the most finely tuned, well balanced wines outside of Burgundy. These are fairly big wines for Pinot, de-stemmed fruit, open fermented and then cold macerated for upto a week before spending 16 months in french oak (extortionately expensive in New Zealand) upto a third of it new oak gives these wines some serious backbone. The fruit is bright and very forward - black cherry, a touch of wild strawberry and a hint of damsen fruit. On the palate the same dark fruit flavours abound, all nicely drawn together with fine tannic structure and a touch of sharpness to finish the wine off. It wasnt cheap, hells bells, but then what Kiwi pinots are? But you have to admire the abilities of a blind winemaker to bring all the various components of that blend together in such a harmonious package. They do say that when somebody loses a sense such as sight, that the other senses become more attuned to compensate for the missing sense. It is said that CP Lins sense of smell and taste is so refined that he came to the attention of Mountfords owner at a small restaurant. CP is said to have announced to his table that he could smell a Monte Cristo no 5 being smoked, the very brand of cigar that Michael Eaton happened to be smoking at a nearby table. As they got to talking Michael realised he was in the company of someone with extra-ordinary talent. As they supposedly tasted the previous vintages of Mountford CP apparently told him the wines were crap, and why. He was offered the job of improving them and the rest as they say is history. Ive only tasted one vintage, and I have to say that Im hooked. This is definately a keeper, and once I have a bit of spare cash, Im buying a case for myself!! Production is quite limited, and from what I hear from NZ the 2005 vintage was so small that it I doubt it will be exported.