Mahi, meaning ‘our work, our craft’, began in 2001, fulfilling a dream for Brian and Nicola Bicknell. With a strong focus on single-vineyard wines from Marlborough, the idea behind Mahi is to respect and promote the individuality of the various vineyards, their soils and their aspects. The Mahi symbol represents the strength, life and growth of the native New Zealand frond (fern), with the understanding that wine should never be rushed to bottle, respecting its ability to evolve naturally over time. The first vineyard that was chosen to illustrate a particular style of the region came from a small 1.5 hectare parcel of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the Byrne vineyard, located in the Conder’s Bend area of Marlborough. The initial quantities were minute and with Brian’s primary focus being on the wines and business of another wine label, there was little time to focus on growing Mahi. Most of the administration and vineyard work was completed by his wife Nicola and very little time was spent in promoting the wines as they were all selling through word of mouth. The style of winemaking was also aimed at allowing the vineyards to speak through the wines, with the wines being made in a very ‘hands-off’ manner. The primary emphasis for all the wines is texture, aiming for wines that give real palate satisfaction rather than fruit-bomb styles. For the single-vineyard wines the fruit is hand-picked and sorted prior to being ‘whole-cluster’ pressed at the winery. Fermentation is most often done with the indigenous yeasts that arrive on the grapes, and if barrels are used these will be French, as they give a more savoury character to the wines. With the Pinot Noir everything is hand-plunged and to date all have been bottled unfiltered, allowing the true vineyard expression to come through. This is a name to watch: quantities are tiny as yet, but the quality is high, thanks to Bicknell’s great energy, attention to detail and restless quest for quality…
A striking bouquet of pure light red fruits lead by red cherry – macerated and fresh, oak spices show a youthful integration point as well as touches of brown spice and vanilla; the natural ferment shows as a layer of complexity, quite complex and interesting. The palate is dry and complex with flavors of light red fruits, oak spices and plenty of texture, fine tannins a mix of mostly fruit and some oak; well balanced and well made with medium+ acidity, medium+ fine tannins and a longish finish.
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