In 1938 Maté Brajkovich arrived in New Zealand with his parents, who settled in Kumeu and in 1944 bought a small vineyard which would later become Kumeu River wines. For a few decades Maté mostly made simple fortified and sparkling wines. It wasn't until 1982 however, when Matés son Michael took over, that the wines would really start to turn heads. Michael and his siblings began to transform the vineyard and vinification practices to more considered, traditional ways, with hand harvesting, improved drainage, judicious use of oak and only using the wild yeast present in the vineyard to bring a sharper definition of terroir into the wines. Matés vineyard is the original land bought in 1944, re-planted by Maté just before his death with low-yielding Mendoza clone Chardonnay in 1990.
What The Critics Say
95/100 Bob Campbell MW
"A significant step up on the entry level Village Chardonnay with greater concentration and complexity. Quite Mâcon-like this year in a fruit-focused style with melon and peach the most obvious flavours, although they are supported by subtle nut and bran characters. Good now but will reward cellaring."
18.5/20 Raymond Chan
"Bright, even straw-yellow colour with pale golden hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full and harmoniously integrated with white stonefruit aromas, fresh white florals and nutty notes and chalky minerals. This shows good volume with elegance, unfolding citrus fruit and spicy oak with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate is full with mouthfilling flavours of ripe white stonefruits and citrus fruit, along with subtle floral notes, and creamy, nutty oak and spice nuances. The mouthfeel is vigorous with good depth and presence, and is enlivened by refreshing, crisp acidity. The wine has drive and carries to a full, strong, lingering finish of citrus fruits and nuts. This is a mouthfilling, vigorous Chardonnay with fine ripe white stonefruit and citrus fruit along with nutty, spicy oak and refreshing acidity. Match with seafood and poultry dishes over the next 4 years. Hand-picked fruit from6 vineyards, WBP and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 20% new oak with 100% MLF. 18.5/20"
5 Stars Michael Cooper
"This wine ranks fourth in the company's hierarchy of five Chardonnays, after three single-vineyard labels, but is still outstanding. Grown at Kumeu, in West Auckland, it is powerful, with rich, beautifully interwoven flavours and a seductively creamy texture, but also has good acid spine. The key to its quality lies in the vineyards, says winemaker Michael Brajkovich: 'We manage to get the grapes very ripe.' Grown in several blocks around Kumeu, hand-picked, fermented with indigenous yeasts and lees-aged (with weekly or twice-weekly lees-stirring) in Burgundy oak barriques (typically 25 per cent new), the wine normally undergoes a full, softening malolactic fermentation. The 2016 vintage (5*) is a top buy. Pale lemon/green, it is fragrant, mouthfilling and youthful, with finely balanced acidity and ripe, citrusy, peachy, slightly biscuity and toasty flavours, showing excellent depth, complexity and harmony. Already enjoyable, it should be at its best 2019+".
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