Mahana rebooted

Mahana Estates (Photo: Mahana Estates)

Nelson winery, Mahana, (re-branded from Woollaston) has undergone a fairly radical change of name, packaging and wine styles with the help of its relatively new winemaker, Michael Glover. Glover is a local boy. His family own Glover’s Vineyard, a small Upper Moutere wine producer best known for its heroic cabernet sauvignon. After nine years as winemaker for the iconic Bannockburn winery in Australia, Glover returned to Nelson to take the winemaking helm at Mahana.

Glover is an adventurous and often unconventional winemaker. Mahana (tastings) is an organic wine producer with a modern, multi-storied winery that relies on gravity to avoid forcing wine and must through mechanical pumps as much as possible.

Glover says,

“We employ organic viticulture and, in so doing, avoid any additives, excess movement, or manipulation. Inside the winery, our goal is to make wines that capture both place and season, while upholding texture, structure and interest.”

My top three wines in the Mahana Selection were a riesling and two pinot noir labels. I also liked a 2016 rosé made by carbonic maceration but was challenged by two sauvignon blanc labels that were made using plenty of skin contact, which made the wines more flavoursome but too coarse-textured.

2016 Mahana Riesling (94 points) is, according to Glover, “exploring the dark side of the variety” with high solids juice warm fermented by wild yeasts with no addition. The wine was “pretty much left to its own devices.” It’s a deliciously flavoursome and quite sweet wine (40g/l residual sugar) supported by tangy acidity that builds a wonderful tension. Very impressive. (NZD $29.50)

2014 Mahana Pinot Noir (95 points) is grown on clay soils without irrigation, giving it an impressive intensity and perfume, while 30% whole bunches in the ferment provide further intensity, spice and structure. The wine has a firm tannic backbone that needs to be mellowed by food or time but it is deliciously complex and spicy. Pinot noir with real character. (NZD $39.50)

2014 Mahana Woolley’s Corner & Cornelia’s Nine Pinot Noir (92 points) is a selection of two superior blocks of pinot noir fermented with 60% whole-bunches before being matured in oak for 18 months. I found it intriguing and challenging, criticising it for excess development and structure but at the same time admiring the wine’s density and complexity. A few year’s in bottle will either endorse my lack of faith or prove me entirely wrong. I hope the latter. (NZD $65)

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