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Mahi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Brian Bicknell has been intimately involved with the development of modern Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for well over a quarter of a century (although he looks far too young).  Back in 1992, while with Babich Wines, he was investigating the effects of indigenous yeast fermentation.  The conclusions at the time were very positive, and Brian took this procedure with him when he became the founding winemaker at Seresin Estate.  I was judging at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards at the time the 1996 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc made its appearance, winning gold.  It was a maker for me to the emergence of the sophisticated styles that are prevalent today.

Brian and his wife Nicola established their own label Mahi in 2001, and here, he has continued his work with Marlborough’s most significant grape variety, employing greater amounts of mom-inoculated yeasts, whole bunch pressing for the finest juice, and the use of batonnage and barrel-fermentation for increased complexing detail and subtle textures and richness.  Brian tends to avoid the overt fruitiness that Marlborough achieves with ease, this style he considers being better suited to food pairing.  The Mahi label has enabled Brian to explore these facets with regional blends and single vineyard bottlings.  The Bicknells and Mahi are important to follow as we see the continued development of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.  Here, I review the 2017 Mahi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, picked earlier, but with sensitivity to phenolics and ripeness, as enabled by having their own winery facilities.

Mahi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
18.0/20   4 Stars

Brilliant, pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the edge.  The nose is elegantly concentrated with a firm core of white stonefruits along with subtle notes of fresh herbs entwined with a complex layer of flinty and mineral lees notes, unfolding a whiff of smoke.  The aromatics are thirst-quenching.  Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a concentrated and well-packed amalgam of white and green stonefruits, along with nuances of gooseberries and herbs, intermixed with a layer of flinty and minerally lees.  The fruit is bright, growing in richness and aromatics, along with refreshing acidity providing energy and tension.  The wine flows along a very fine, textured line which allows the fruitiness to feature, carrying to a long and sustained, tightly bound finish.  This is a concentrated and intense Sauvignon Blanc with rich gooseberry and stonefruit flavours along with a complex flinty and minerally layering of lees, an a taut palate.  Serve with seafood and herb-marinated poultry and pork over the next 2+ years.  Fruit from 7 different vineyards, hand-picked and WBP, fermented with 22% by indigenous yeasts in stainless-steel, with 7% in seasoned French oak to 13.0% alc. and 2.5 g/L RS.  18.0/20  Apr 2018