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RAYMOND CHAN REVIEWS MAHI CHARDONNAY

Mahi winemaker Brian Bicknell has a certain passion and enthusiasm for the Chardonnay grape and making Chardonnay wine, stating that it is his favourite variety, his “plan is to be drinking great White Burgundy as I die” he says.  In both his ‘Marlborough’ and single vineyard ‘Twin Valley’s Chardonnay, he adopts the same low intervention approach in winemaking.  He hand-picks the fruit, whole bunch presses, running the must straight to barrel for a high solids fermentation by indigenous yeasts.  Brian aims for freshness, so doesn’t employ much MLF and the wines spend around a year or so in barrel.  The two wines express ‘a sense of place’ to Brian in various aspects, including the yeast populations involved and the source of the grapes.  Here I review his latest releases, the ‘Marlborough’ 2012 and ‘Twin Valleys’ 2011 Chardonnays.  www.mahiwine.co.nz


Mahi Marlborough Chardonnay 2012

Four clones of fruit from the ‘Cook’ vineyard, the ‘Taylor’ vineyard in the Rapaura and the ‘Twin Valleys’ site, all in the western Wairau Valley, hand-picked, WBP and indigenous yeast fermented with high solids in barrel to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in oak with only a small portion undergoing MLF.  Bright straw-yellow colour with a slight golden hue, pale edged.  This has a fresh, intense nose with very finely expressed citrus fruit and yellow floral lift, unfolding subtle, complex flintiness and hints of MLF butterscotch.  Medium-bodied, a clear and focussed core of gently sweet citrus fruit is the feature on palate.  Fine, ripe, crisp acidity underlines the fruit, providing energy, freshness and tension.  As the wine flows, subtle complexing detail of flint and nuts become revealed, adding to the interest and depth, and lead to a tight, concentrated and sustained finish.  This is an elegantly concentrated Chardonnay with fresh, focussed citrussy fruit and complex flinty detail.  Serve with seafood and poultry over the next 4-5+ years.  18.5/20  Sep 2013


Mahi ‘Twin Valleys’ Marlborough Chardonnay 2011

Bright straw-yellow colour, pale on rim.  The bouquet is tightly bound and restrained with subtle, savoury and funky flint and reductive aromas entwined with white stonefruits and minerals.  The complex nuances become more harmonious with time in the glass.  Medium-full bodied, this is elegant in proportion with a quietly rich, lush and dense core of stonefruits integrated with flint and mineral flavours.  Barrel-ferment creaminess shows.  The mouthfeel is rounded and the textures softening, but good acidity provides balance and linear drive.  The palate is near seamless and the gentle flavours lead to a dry, lightly nuanced finish with good length.  This is a soft, creamy, shy Chardonnay with subtly integrated stonefruit and minerally flavours and good weight.  Match with pork and veal over the next 4-5 years.  Clone 95 fruit from a 0.8 ha block of the ‘Twin Valleys’ vineyard in the Fareham Lane area at the Wairau and Waihopai junction, WBP and indigenous yeast fermented in barrel with high solids to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in oak with minimal MLF.  18.0/20  Sep 2013

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