Kumeu River 2019 Estate Chardonnay
If you haven't heard already, the 2019 from Kumeu River is one of their greatest vintages and caused much excitement in the wine world.
The Estate Chardonnay is the wine that this producer built their reputation on, and in 2019 it is a blinder. As in all the 2019s from Kumeu, there is a crystalline quality to this with pine forest scents, underlying richness and a perfume to die for. If you are patient, you could keep this for another 8 years or so, but even now it is utterly delicious.
Kumeu River 2019s
Kumeu River has made one of their best vintage yet with the release of the 2019s. The wines have precision, balance and complexity. We offer a vintage report by Kumeu River's owner and winemaker Michael Brajkovich MW.
"Winter in 2018 was quite wet, and the moist conditions continued through the early spring and allowed a normal bud break. Thankfully, the crucial flowering period was relatively dry and resulted in a very even fruit set in December. The three days immediately prior to Christmas Day gave us nearly 60 mm of rain, but that was the last significant rainfall of the summer. The temperature during the critical ripening period of January and February 2019 was mostly in the low to mid-twenties, with a maximum of only 29.3°C for one day in January. Most years we can expect at least a day or two over 30°C, but this year conditions remained cool to warm.
January, February and March became progressively drier, however, and that was where the real character of the vintage comes from. The weather was mildly warm, but dry and clear, so the ripening conditions were perfect for aroma and flavour development, while still retaining the fresh acidity that our region is noted for. Low humidity meant there was no disease pressure and the grapes were able to be harvested in beautiful, clean condition.
After the early harvest of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes destined for our Crémant wines, we were able to pick the Hunting Hill Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards at optimal ripeness, and these have given us truly remarkable examples of their style.
All of our vineyards were rapidly reaching their ideal maturity at about the same time, so the ensuing 4 weeks were extremely busy, with harvest in full swing in both Kumeu and Hawkes Bay and the winery in 24-hour mode to be able to cope.
Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris tend to be early, and both were giving us rich colour and texture that have transferred through to the wines which have lovely mouthfeel and weight, with pronounced berryfruit characters on the nose and palate.
The Kumeu vineyards that contribute to our Estate Chardonnay gave us some magnificent fruit. The level of citrus fruit complexity, and the layering of aromas and flavours that this wine shows are stunning. This is a quality Chardonnay wine of style and pedigree.
The single-vineyard Coddington wine is strongly coloured and richly ripe in the yellow peach and apricot spectrum, with a background of toasted oak and hazelnut. It is the biggest style in our range, and satisfyingly rich as such, but also nicely balanced with its acidity.
Hunting Hill is very distinctive in its terroir typicity, with piercing lemon/lime fruit lift and florality on the nose, richness and volume in the mouth followed by lingering acidity and minerality on the finish. This is an absolute classic example of how great the Chardonnay grape can be: A beautifully powerful, yet elegant and complex wine.
Mate’s Vineyard is always the last site we pick each year. In 2019 the grapes certainly had the distinctive Mendoza millerandage, giving many small berries along with the normal sized ones, and as a result a wonderfully concentrated palate texture and fruit richness. Although still somewhat shy on the nose coming out of the barrel, with bottle age the full palette of complex aromas and bouquet of this wonderful wine will be gradually and seductively revealed."
Kumeu River is Noble Grape's favourite producer of Chardonnay from New Zealand, and quite possibly, I would even go as far to say, in the Southern Hemisphere. The winemaker Michael Brajkovich was New Zealand’s first Master of Wine, and one of the country’s leading viticulturists. Kumeu River is located very close to Auckland and makes Chardonnay their speciality. These wines pay homage to Burgundy and it is fair to say that they are almost indistinguishable from their French counterparts, except for their own unique freshness and brightness.
Brits have fallen in love with the wines of New Zealand. The affair probably has much to do with the colonial heritage, but it also has a great deal to do with the excellent, benchmark wines that are produced here. The story must begin with Sauvignon Blanc, but certainly doesn’t end there. Since the 1970s the region of Marlborough has become the go-to area, perhaps in the world, for bright, crystalline ‘Savs’ which gave the French something to think about. But now, it is becoming as equally famous for its Pinots, which are now beyond just being less expensive alternatives to Burgundy, instead showing regional characteristics, from the dark cherry and spice of Central Otago to the brawn and dried herbs of Martinborough.
A special mention goes to the Chardonnays of Kumeu River of Auckland, as these are some of the most remarkable wines from this variety in the Southern Hemisphere.