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
Winemaker notes on current 2017 vintage
"The 2017 vintage was cool and windy with some weather episodes during harvest. This made hand harvesting crucial in maintaining the standard of the Estate Chardonnay that we have set for this wine. The nose is immediately fragrant, a hallmark of 2017, with a touch of citrus and peach. The texture supple and with a beautiful bracing acidity on the finish. The wine is delicious now and will provide beautiful drinking over the next 6 years."
95/100 Bob Campbell MW (2016 vintage)
"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."
5 Stars Michael Cooper (2016 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 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."
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