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
5 Stars Michael Cooper (2015 vintage)
"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 2014 vintage (5*) has a fragrant, complex bouquet, leading into a refined, youthful wine with excellent intensity of citrusy, mealy, biscuity flavours, lively and lingering. The 2015 vintage (5*) is also a top buy. Open and expressive in its youth, it has fresh, ripe grapefruit, peach and spice flavours, gently seasoned with smoky, toasty oak, good complexity, a slightly minerally streak, lively acidity and impressive length." Drink 2016 - 2020
94/100 Wine Orbit, Sam Kim (2015 vintage)
"From a small-cropping year, this latest offering shows excellent concentration and poise. The familiar satisfying aromas of white stone fruit, rockmelon and almond with subtle vanilla complexity on the nose. The palate shows excellent focus and weight, brilliantly structured by bright acidity. Youthful, elegantly expressed and instantly appealing. At its best: now to 2023. $32.00. www.kumeuriver.co.nz. Oct 2016."
90/100 Bob Campbell MW (2015 vintage)
"Chablis-like acidity and minerality, with flavours of green apple, citrus, grapefruit, white peach and a suggestion of bran biscuit. A taut, youthful wine that needs time. Nice purity and a lengthy finish. 1/10/2016" Drink 2016 - 2022
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