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Featured Reviews




Kumeu River Cremant, 2016 Pinot Gris and Chardonnays, and 2015 Pinot Noir

07 February,2018

Kumeu River is arguably New Zealand’s greatest and most consistent Chardonnay producer. For three decades, the style of wine instituted by winemaker Michael Brajkovich MW has led the way for the rest of the country in approaching the quality and character of the great wines of the Cote de Beaune. The Kumeu River Chardonnays are internationally regarded as sitting amongst the world’s finest, consistently featuring in many lists of the planet’s top wines, such as influential Wine Spectator magazine’s ‘Top 100’. A significant tasting in May 2015 by experts at Farr Vintners merchants found the Kumeu River Chardonnays rated above a stellar selection of white burgundy wines (click here to see my report).

The Brajkovich family base their Chardonnay winemaking on traditional techniques such as indigenous yeast barrel-fermentation, aging on lees and full MLF. These practices continue, no doubt with fine-tuning to improve the breed, work in with vintage variation, and also to represent the vineyards where the fruit is sourced, for the single vineyard bottlings. This variety remains the focus for Kumeu River today. Kumeu River draws on fruit from 30 ha of estate vineyards and 10 ha from contract growers, to make approx. 30,000 cases annually, of which 80% of this is Chardonnay wine.

It may be surprising for many to realise that the Brajkovich family have worked with a number of other varieties over the years. The move away from hybrids saw plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Malbec and the Cabernets, along with Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris a little later. Some of these varieties have given way to grow more Chardonnay, but there is a little Gewurztraminer, planted in the mid-2000s. The range of wines has grown, with the ‘Kumeu Village’ wines as the entry level bottlings, and the development of the single vineyard wines, and the creation of a ‘Cremant’-style sparkling, the first base wine put down in 2012. Here, I review a selection of Kumeu River wines, from the Cremant, 2016 Kumeu Village whites, the 2016 Kumeu River Chardonnays, and the 2015 Kumeu River ‘Hunting Hill’ Pinot Noir. www.kumeuriver.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Kumeu River Kumeu Cremant NV

Sparkling Wine from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18.5/20

Full, even straw-yellow colour with pale golden hues, a littlwe lighter on the rim, the bubbles very fine and the bead moderately persistent. The bouquet is well-proportioned with concentrated and deep aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits harmoniously entwined with subtle citrus and herb notes, and a fine layer of bready, yeasty autolytic complexity. Some savoury mineral details emerges. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate has a well-concentrated core of white and yellow stonefruits with subtle nutty notes melded with flavours of bready, yeasty autolysis. The flavours have depth, intensity and vitality, and flow with good energy along a very fine-textured line, enlivened with delicate effervescence and balanced by lacy acidity. The flavours carry to a long and sustained finish. This is a well-concentrated and intense Cremant sparkling with stonefruit, nutty and bready-yeasty flavours on a vibrant, fine-textured palate. Serve as an aperitif over the next 3+ years. A blend 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, hand-picked, WBP and indigenous yeast fermented, with full MLF to 13.5% alc., dosaged with 2006 Chardonnay to 4 g/L RS, the wine at 6 atmospheres, bottled in September 2014 and disgorged in August 2017. Lot KC1301. 18.5/20 Feb 2018 RRP $50.00

Kumeu Village Pinot Gris 2016

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

17.5+/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with pale gold tints and some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full with aromatic white stonefruits along with peaches and hints of honeysuckle with lifted savoury florals, and a taut core of steely minerals. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has elegant, intensely penetrating flavours of white and yellow stonefruits along with savoury florals and hints of honeysuckle and mineral detail. The mouthfeel is fresh, zesty and steely with bright acidity, and the palate has good linearity, flowing along a light, phenolic line, leading to a lingering dry finish with a little textural grip. This is a fresh and lively dry Pinot Gris with good depth and intensity of steely stonefruit flavours with honeysuckle notes. Match with Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese fare over the next 2-3 years. Hand-picked Kumeu fruit, WBP and indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc. and 4.4 g/L RS, the wine given extended maturation on lees. 17.5+/20 Feb 2018 RRP $17.00

Kumeu Village Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the edge. The nose is softly full and gently up-front and voluminous with aromas of yellow stonefruits in an amalgam with white peaches and a subtle mealy and nutty overlay. Medium-full bodied, the palate is stylishly up-front with flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits and peaches with nutty and savoury mineral interest. The mouthfeel has fruit richness lending rounded textures and plenty of presence. The wine flows positively along a fine phenolic line leading to a lingering dry finish of stonefruits, nuts and mealy detail. This is an elegantly rich, up-front Chardonnay with ripe stonefruit, nutty and mealy flavours with good weight, a rounded mouthfeel and a dry finish. Match with poultry, pork and veal over the next 3+ years. Hand-picked Kumeu fruit, WBP and indigenous yeast fermented, 75% in tank and 25% in seasoned oak to 13.5% alc., the wine given extended lees aging, undergoing 100% MLF. 18.0/20 Feb 2018 RRP $20.00

Kumeu River Pinot Gris 2016

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18+/20

Full straw-yellow colour with light golden hues, pale edged. This has an elegantly proportioned nose with softly presented but fresh fruit aromas of white and yellow stonefruits along with piquant yellow florals entwined with nutty and honied elements, and hints of minerals. The aromatics build in intensity with aeration. Dryish to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is harmoniously presented with gently layered ripe, white and yellow stonefruits entwined with yellow florals and honied nuances. The mouthfeel is rich with a soft unctuousness balanced by light, lacy acidity and fine phenolic textures. The wine flows smoothly to a soft and sustained, light-nuanced finish. This is a harmoniously layered, gently rich, dry Pinot Gris with stonefruit, floral and honied flavours on a balanced, fresh mouthfeel. Match with Asian fare over the next 3+ years. Hand-picked Kumeu fruit indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc. and 5.9 g/L RS. 18.0+/20 Feb 2018 RRP $27.00

Kumeu River ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18.5/20

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 Feb 2018 RRP $36.00

Kumeu River ‘Coddington’ Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18.5+/20

Brilliant straw-yellow colour with pale lemon-gold hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is fine in proportion with good breadth and depth of ripe yellow stonefruits, peaches and citrus fruit, along with subtle creamy barrel-ferment and spicy, nutty oak elements adding richness and detail. This is an expression of elegance with underlying richness. Medium-full bodied, the palate is elegantly rich and plush with an integrated core of ripe yellow stonefruits, peaches and citrus fruit, with fine creamy barrel-ferment and nutty, spicy oak flavours. The mouthfeel is smooth in flow and gently moutfilling, possessing integrated acidity, growing in depth, weight and lusciousness as it carries to a soft, sustained finish. This is a beautifully harmonious, rich, integrated Chardonnay with stonefruit, citrus fruit, creamy barrel-ferment and spicy oak flavours on a smooth-flowing palate. Serve with roasted poultry and pork dishes over the next 4+ years. First made as a single vineyard wine in 2006. Fruit from the vineyard formerly owned by Tim and Angela Coddington, hand-picked, WBP and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 25% new oak with 100% MLF. 18.5+/20 Feb 2018 RRP $50.00

Kumeu River ‘Hunting Hill’ Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

19+/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with light golden hues and some depth, a little paler edged. The nose is taut and tightly bound with intense and penetrating aromas of white stonefruits and nectarines, with citrus fruits, along with a layering of spicy, nutty oak, hints of creamy barrel-ferment and some steely mineral elements. Medium-full bodied, the palate has very tightly concentrated flavours of nectarines and white stonefruits, citrus fruits, all entwined with spicy, nutty oak, subtle mealy elements and creamy barrel-ferment. The mouthfeel is refreshing and poised with lacy acidity. The flavours grow in intensity and depth to form a firm core and line. This has excellent drive, energy, tension and linearity, carrying to a very long and sustained finish. This is a tightly concentrated and intensely packed Chardonnay with white stonefruit, peach and citrus fruit flavours, along with spicy oak on a refreshing and poised, driven palate. Match with roasted seafood and poultry over the next 6+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Hunting Hill’ vineyard, WBP and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 25% new oak with 100% MLF. 19.0+/20 Feb 2018 RRP $60.00

Kumeu River ‘Mate’s Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

19+/20

Brilliant straw-yellow colour with light golden hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is a little restrained in expression but with softly full and voluminous, well-packed aromas of ripe white and yellow stonefruits, nectarines peaches and citrus fruit harmoniously entwined with creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak, with soft, chalky mineral detail. This has elegance and completeness. Medium-full bodied, the palate is stylishly rich with balanced and harmoniously entwined flavours of white stonefruits with peach and citrus notes. The flavours are rich and detailed with soft creamy and nutty oak elements, and balanced by fine, lacy acidity. The wine flows effortlessly along a very fine line, leading to a soft, near-ethereal, lingering finish. This is a beautifully harmonious and complete Chardonnay with white stonefruit, peach and citrus fruit flavours along with creamy, nutty oak, and fine acidity. Serve with poultry, pork and veal dishes over the next 6+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Mate’s Vineyard’, WBP and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 30% new oak with 100% MLF. 19.0+/20 Feb 2018 RRP $70.00

Kumeu River ‘Hunting Hill’ Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

17.5+/20

Light ruby-red colour with some depth and slight garnet hues, lighter on the rim. This has a softly concentrated and full nose with aromas of dark-red cherry and berry fruit with a subtle note of nutty oak and suggestions of dark herbs. The aromatics form a rounded and deep heart, growing in firmness and intensity with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a fine core of dark-red cherry and berry fruit with soft notes of nutty oak along with dark herb detail. The fruit has richness, underlined by supple tannin extraction lending a soft, balanced structure with integrated acidity. The wine carries smoothly to a long finish of cherry fruit and nutty oak. This Pinot Noir has cherry, berry, dark herb and nutty flavours with gentle richness and supple tannins. Match with poultry and pork dishes over the next 4+ years. First released as a single vineyard wine with the 2013 vintage. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Hunting Hill’ vineyard, fully destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 2-3 weeks on skins and aged 11 months in seasoned oak. 17.5+/20 Feb 2018 RRP $50.00

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