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

07-Feb-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
  • Kumeu Village Pinot Gris 2016
  • Kumeu Village Chardonnay 2016
  • Kumeu River Pinot Gris 2016
  • Kumeu River ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2016
  • Kumeu River ‘Coddington’ Chardonnay 2016
  • Kumeu River ‘Hunting Hill’ Chardonnay 2016
  • Kumeu River ‘Mate’s Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2016
  • Kumeu River ‘Hunting Hill’ Pinot Noir 2015

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