A visit to Mahi Wine and Winemaker Brian Bicknell - Sunday September 8th 2013.
Brian very kindly opened a few of his whites and a red wine which we then tasted and discussed.
Thank you Brian
What follows are my impressions about the wines tasted - I hope I do them justice!
Before you read them though - I have to say - that the overwhelming theme that I came away with about the Mahi style is that of texture, balance and a sense of harmony in each and every wine tasted.
Mahi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (100% free-run juice; 10% of the juice underwent a 'Wild Ferment; 12% of the juice was Barrel Fermented; wine rested on lees for 6 months)
Nose: Plump, generous and very giving of its bouquet - peach and sweet lemon, a quiet gentle spice.
Palate: A reflection of what the nose suggests with a generous and giving voice - the texture is fine alongside a pristine acidity, a gentle spice is evident and a hint of manuka honey (wild ferment note - for me) on the finish which is dry yet aflush with fruit.
A lovely wine - balanced, well made and quite long on the finish
Mahi 'Boundary Farm' Sauvignon Blanc 2011 14%abv (North facing slope; 100% Hand picked fruit pressed into oak 14% New French; 100% Wild Fermentation; No additions)
Nose: Still powerfully youthful with a strong citrus fruits message followed by some stone fruit suggestion; the wild fermentation signature is evident adding a noteworthy degree of complexity.
Palate: Plenty of acidity (M++), youthful with lemon peel and other citrus fruit suggestions alongside pale stone fruit aromas; A mild herbaceous layer; There is a spike of honeysuckle and even a little Manuka honey (not botrytis) which reinates on the finish - which I attribute to the wild fermentation. A dry wine with a long and memorable finish.
Mahi 'Ballot Block' Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (hand picked and whole cluster pressed fruit; Wild Fermentation in French Barriques for 10 months)
Nose: Who said New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc can't age? Think again - this is a wine displaying a distinctly youthful and even tropical fruits bouquet. No hint of canned peas or asparagus here! A sweet herbal note leads to a bouquet of depth and complexity.
Palate: What can I say - a stunning wine that reflects both the depth and complexity that the nose suggests, a youthful fruit light is balanced by bottle maturity that is showing no sign of abating just yet. Balanced with medium+ acidity and length.
It is interesting (to me) that so many 2008 wines (across many varieties and styles) were under performers in the first 18 months upon release. What has transpired though are wines that were simply slower to develop, in many cases, and are just now beginning to show their true self (or is that selves?)
Mahi Marlborough Chardonnay 2012 (from 3 vineyards, whole cluster pressing directly to French barrel; wild fermentation with high solids; 11 months on lees; 3.1 gpl RS)
Nose: A hint of the wild ferment, barrel work, varietal peach-e-ness and creaminess; moderate complexity and youthful in its bouquet.
Palate: Dry and with a highly textured beginning; youthful poised acidity; a lime like citrus quality followed by lemon and apple fruit suggestions; not an oak centred wine (although this is easily spotted) but a wine complemented by the use of oak giving it depth and complexity.
2012 was a smaller, cooler and more challenging vintage for many on Marlborough yet this wine clearly demonstrates that the judicious selection of fruit along with less reliance on aok can deliver a wine with balance and harmony on the palate.
Mahi 'Alchemy' Chardonnay 2012 (link to the 2009 notes - 2012 not yet available from the Mahi team)
Nose: Warmth and richness are immediate on the nose; there is more ripe stone fruit suggestions with sweet citrus and again a wild fermentation signature; the complexity that I at first thought was not quite there began to unfold as the wine absorbed more O2 with each swirl of the glass. An intriguing bouquet overall.
Palate: Only just dry with a the luscious side of the fruits holding hands high; pristine acid lines show well with the oak not baring down on the complexity of this example; Grapefruit then peach flavors, perhaps a little more oak spice (but not toastiness); quite a long and distinctive finish.
An easy 5 Stars
A wine for a restaurant list I think!
Mahi Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 (Piegage 3x a day; then 11 months in Fench oak; 0.28 gpl RS)
Nose: Pristine and clearly defined fruit profile of light red fruits - cool climate cranberry then a mix of raspberry and cherry suggestions; hints of the savory suggest a little whole bunch; generous and inviting with plenty of personality and moderate complexity.
Palate: Pristine and precise fruit flavors; medium+ acidity and medium++ tannins. Tannins are actually quite fine, but have a youthfull tension about them that requires cellar time to ease them into more harmony with the rest of the elements in the this example; they also add texture and length which is part of Brian's intention for his wines - not all wines are mean to be drunk upon release and this is one such example. Give it time please.
Brian decanted the Pinot Noir and let it sit for around 20 minutes before we tasted - great idea!
I think there is much to be gained from decanting both red and white wine closed under screw top. For me it helps to relax the wine before drinking and assists in removing any residue So2 from bottling and for some wines any reduced/reductive properties.
Brian and I went on to taste a few wines from barrel. From the few that I he thieved wine from I can see, smell and taste why there is much promise from the 2013 vintage.