Mahi Pinot Noir is a red wine made in the Marlborough wine-growing region of New Zealand. Like their fantastic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, the fruit is sourced from several of the estates vineyards.
The winemaker and owner of Mahi Wines is Brian Bicknell. Brian has made wine around the world for about 15 years when he settled in Marlborough on 1996. Brian was interested in noting that vineyards in the different valleys of Marlborough produced remarkably unique profiles. At the time most Marlborough Sauvignon would be blended from different areas. A plan was hatched to make wines from different vineyard sites to show that the region had true depth, complexity and “terroir”. Winemaking at Mahi is very “hands off”. Fruit is hand harvested and sorted prior to being ‘whole-cluster’ pressed at the winery. Fermentation is 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. Today Mahi have several vineyard sites including the original one in the Fareham Lane areas of the Wairau Valley. In 2006 Brian was able to quit his other winemaking commitment and focus on Mahi Wines only. This coincided with the purchase of the old Cellier Le Brun winery which was upgraded and modernised. The first vintage released from the new winery was the 2007.
The fruit for the Mahi Pinot Noir comes from three vineyards in the Marlborough region. The Twin Valleys portion from the cooler Fareham Road area gives us the palate structure with finesse on the back-palate. Fruit from the Byrne vineyard gives a lovely delicacy and the final portion comes from Ward, approximately 45 kilometres south of Blenheim, providing great depth to the palate, with rich black fruit characters. After a manual harvest the grapes were predominantly destemmed before going to small vats for cold soaking prior to fermentation, allowing the extraction of soft tannins and colour at the juice stage rather than in the harsher alcoholic stage during and after fermentation. The grapes were then fermented solely with indigenous yeasts offering a wide variety of flavours and helping to attain better texture. During fermentation the skins and juice were hand-plunged on average three times per day, with the temperatures peaking at about 34 degrees. When finished the wine was taken straight to French barriques where it sat for 18 months. The wine was then gently racked, blended, and lightly fined with organic egg whites before bottling.