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Wine of the Week for week ending 14 March 2010
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Mahi Twin Valleys Vineyard Chardonnay 2008
Marlborough, New Zealand

I'm back into Chardonnay mode. ABC (Anything but Chardonnay) is out. BBC (Bring Back Chardonnay) is in.

There have been some mind boggling good Chardonnays tasted recently.

At the Wednesday tastings a rare and magnificent Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Folatieres Premier Cru 2007 from Burgundy was tasted. There was also the exalted Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2005, the exiting Howard Park West Australia Chardonnay 2006 and closer to home the Morton Estate Coniglio Chardonnay 2004 from Hawkes Bay.

On winemaker visits, wines like Palliser Estate Chardonnay 2008 and Martinborough Vineyard Martinborough Terrace Chardonnay 2008 showed the excellence of Chardonnay from the Martinborough region, while the West Brook Waimauku Chardonnay 2008 from Auckland flew the flag high for the quality of this historic winemaking region's grapes.

So it was time to open some of the sample wines that had been waiting to be tasted. Six reasonably expensive Chardonnays ranging in price from $29.99 to $40.00 a bottle.

And the wine that got my No. 1 vote was Mahi Twin Valleys Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2008. There was something special about the texture of this wine - such a delicate touch, it danced on the tongue and coated it with its vinosity with its light as a feather twirls. A light gold in colour, it is smoky and savoury with a nutty, nougat complexity to the scent. In the palate there is depth and concentration with lovely stonefruit and creamy oak and a delicate zestiness to the finish. Then the lingering, mouthfilling aftertaste is studded with peach.

I was not surprised when the label was revealed. This is a Brian Bicknell wine and his second name is finesse.

From the Mahi website I learn that Twin Valleys is a vineyard at the juncture of the Waihopai and Wairau Valleys, quite west in the valley and well inland from the coast. Pete and Anne Reed are the owners. They grow Clone 95 Chardonnay, which has a fine structure and makes wines with more restraint and the capacity to age.

Brian writes, "We aim to respect the vineyard totally with Chardonnay and could not make it more naturally. We hand-pick all of the grapes, whole-cluster press them and run the juice straight to French oak. The juice is totally fermented with the native yeasts from the vineyard and we then let it rest in the barriques on yeast lees until we feel it is time to bottle it. We aim for textural savouriness rather than fruit retention and hope that the wine delivers the mid-palate creaminess while retaining good acidity to give a long and complex finish."

Mahi Twin Valleys Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 sells for $34 from the Mahi cellar door and on the website (freight additional). It has 13.5% alcohol stated on the label and it is closed with a screwcap.

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© Sue Courtney
9 Mar 2010

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