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With nearly 30 vintages under his belt, many of them overseas, Brian Bicknell is one of Marlborough’s more experienced winemakers.  He and his wife Nicola set up their own label with the 2001 vintage, their Mahi wines from Marlborough espousing their philosophy of making wines that are sophisticated with texture and subtlety, ideal with food, rather than being fruit-expressive only in style.  They produce a range of wines that are based on the classical Marlborough varieties, but in their own inimitable style of restraint.  The Marlborough regional wines are the core of the range, but the Bicknell’s delight in offering their more complex single vineyard bottlings which incorporate more winemaker input and detail.  Here, I review two new release Pinot Gris wines, the variety Brian recognises to offer much variation and is open to considerable interpretation.  The Mahi approaches are very evident in the two wines, even though they come from the same vineyard.

Mahi ‘Marlborough’ Pinot Gris 2016


Bright, pale straw-yellow colour with hints of green and a suggestion of blush, pale on the rim. The nose is very tight and taut, with refreshing and steely aromas of white stonefruits and white florals, revealing a little honeysuckle and nuances of nuts and smoke. The aromatics are very fine and detailed. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate is tightly bound with a fine and concentrated core of white stonefruits, white florals, and nutty and mineral elements. The mouthfeel is bright, lively and refreshing with lacy acidity, and the wine flows along a fine-textured line that carries to a long, lingering finish of stonefruits and nuts. This is a taut, finely concentrated dry Pinot Gris with flavours of white stonefruits and florals and subtle nutty notes on a fresh and fine-textured palate. Serve with seafood and poultry over the next 3+ years. All free-run juice, fruit from ‘Ward Farm’, southern Awatere, predominantly machine picked and fermented in stainless-steel, with 12% in seasoned French oak to 14.0% alc. and <1.0 g/L RS.  Nov 2016

Mahi ‘Ward Farm’ Pinot Gris 2015

Bright, light golden-hued yellow colour with some depth, lighter edged.  This has a well-proportioned bouquet with solid and deep aromas of yellow stonefruits entwined with complex nutty and flinty, minerally lees notes, and a subtle thread of oxidative detail, the aromatics beginning to show some secondary nuance.  Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate is rich and lively with luscious and vibrant flavours of yellow stonefruits entwined with complexing layers of nutty oak, flinty and minerally lees and a suggestion of oxidative nuance.  The fruit richness is balanced by fine and lively acidity and follows a fine-textured background phenolic line.  The wine carries to a concentrated, sustained, dry finish of stonefruits and savoury nutty notes.  This is a rich, complex and detailed dry Pinot Gris with yellow stonefruit, nutty barrel notes and flinty lees notes on a fine, fresh, lingering palate.  Match with poultry and pork over the next 3-4 years.  Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Ward Farm’ vineyard of Pam and Polly Francis, WBP and full indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 14.0% alc. and 3.14 g/L RS, the wine aged 15 months on lees in barrel.  Nov 2016