I was delighted to received a phone call from Mahi winemaker, Brian Bicknell, late last year. He asked me if he could send me his new Pinot Gris wines to review.
I hesitated and explained my winewriting was mostly in hiatus (as it was then) and I told him why. I’m reminded about it today as I listen to the radio with breast cancer in the spotlight and breast cancer ‘survivors’ talking about the importance of early detection. The same goes for prostate cancer. Frequent check-ups that can be as simple as a blood test may be all that is needed. Unfortunately, despite the check-ups, there are some cancers that slip through – the particularly aggressive cancers that hide their presence until it is too late. That, sadly, was my Neil’s fate. I felt a little better after chatting with Brian, encouraging him and all his friends to get that virtually painless blood test. And in due course the wines arrived – chardonnay too.
I love Pinot Gris with pork, the suggestion of apple and orchard fruit in the wines a no-brainer wine match usually. But what about chardonnay? Would it go with throw-in-the-oven cook-in-the-bag sirloin of pork with an accompanying apple and thyme sauce? This was an opportunity to see. But first I tasted the wines to make these notes.
Mahi Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
Light lemon gold. Citrusy on the nose. Citrus and lemon cream biscuits are bright on the bouquet with a mealy complexity. This is echoed on the palate that exudes nubile freshness. Yes, bright citrus and pineapple over a mealy backbone with subtle influence of savoury oak and compounding in richness and mouth feel. Sip it quickly it is vibrant and zesty but the savouriness comes through to linger. I feel this is too young and will blossom with a little more time. But nevertheless lovely sipping on the day. 13.7% alcohol. About $29.50.
Mahi Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016
Light lemon gold, a similar hue to the Chardonnay, and the bouquet kind of echoes the Chardonnay too although richer and vibrantly fruitier with apple and pear and mealy notes harmonious in the background. In the palate there is no resemblance to the Chardonnay, however. The taste overflows with summer fruit salad flavours with an abundance of peaches and pears, a zing of aromatic spice, an accent of pineapple and the most subtle nuance of lime. It has mouthfeel and volume with vibrancy and freshness and a kind of underlying earthy complexity. Fruity yet savoury/earthy in the best kind of way. Some barrel ferment (12%) and no protein fining so good for vegans. 14% alc. About $23.
Mahi Ward Farm Marlborough Pinot Gris 2015
This is noticeably richer in colour – a bright lemon gold with a citrine-like lustre. The complex bouquet offers up nutmeg and cedar with a tantalising seam of tangelo/mandarin exciting the senses. A full-bodied, mouthfillling, deliciously tasty Pinot Gris with grapefruit tingles exquisitely balanced by something that reminds me of hokey/pokey honeycomb together with baked apple and a wonderfully mouthfilling underlying savoury mealy complexity. It is fermented in oak with wild yeasts and matured in barrel for 15 months. Pretty hard not to like. 14% alc. About $30.
As for the food match, yep, a no-brainer match for both Pinot Gris and not surprisingly with the Mahi Marlborough Chardonnay too. Lovely wines. Thanks for the opportunity to taste them Brian. Find out more from mahiwine.co.nz.