|2019 Estate Chardonnay||13.5% alcohol||$32.00|
|2019 SV Rays Road Chardonnay||13.5% alcohol||$40.00|
|2019 SV Coddington Chardonnay||13.5% alcohol||$55.00|
|2019 SV Hunting Hill Chardonnay||13.5% alcohol||$70.00|
|2019 SV Matés Chardonnay||13.5% alcohol||$80.00|
posted by Jane
Michael Brajkovich is not a man given to hyperbole. So when, at the launch of the Kumeu River 2018s last year, he said ‘wait for the 2019s’ and accompanied this statement with a very slight raising of his eyebrows, I took that to mean he thought the ‘19s would be something special.
In July the winery launched Kumeu River Cru, which “was developed as an annual membership offering …. sign up to secure the wines of your preference and become a member of our Cru.” So when, having used lockdown to catalogue my cellar, it became obvious that I needed to start buying some wine again, I duly joined up. In return I was invited, along with other Cru members, to visit the winery and get a chance to taste the new vintage.
When I came to write up these wines, at first I was a little surprised to see my tasting notes were quite brief and that I hadn’t noted masses of descriptors. But then these are wines that are very much in their embryonic stage so I’m not sure why I had expected to see so much, so early on. Some wines need cellaring to reveal their potential and these are definitely ones that will reward keeping.
2019 Estate Chardonnay : the most forward of the wines with touches of just-ripe white peach and apricot, a little flint and nougat. The rich texture balanced by a lovely line of acidity. It doesn’t have the intensity of the single vineyard wines but far outperforms its peers in the price range.
2019 Single Vineyard Rays Road Chardonnay : ‘the hottest vineyard, but the coolest wine’ was Paul Brajkovich’s comment. This is a blend of 20% tank fermented and 80% old barrel fermented wine off the Hawke’s Bay Rays Road vineyard. Crisp conference pear and red apple, taut with a wet stone phenolic grip. No new oak but plenty of weight.
2019 Single Vineyard Coddington Chardonnay : slightly heavier soils and a sheltered, north facing site means this vineyard is a suntrap which provides the conditions for the boldest wine. 25% new oak is easily soaked up by the rock melon and white fleshed peach and although there is plenty of fruit density, there is also a distinctive acid spine. I’ve always felt this wine is overlooked by critics more enamoured by the edgy, detailed Hunting Hill. But Coddington is a perfect expression of its site and always provides plenty of sheer deliciousness. Two vineyards, different in character but not in quality.
2019 Single Vineyard Hunting Hill : as usual sits more in the crisply focussed citrus spectrum with lemon meringue and grilled grapefruit. There is a delicious note of gunflint, some subtle oak and a tight, precise finish.
2019 Single Vineyard Matés Chardonnay : 30% new oak for the flagship wine. Powerful and concentrated, with a core of ripe fruit and a silken, creamy texture, harnessed by its strong line of acidity. Lengthy and poised.
My over-riding impression of the 2019s is that these are wines of precision. It was interesting to learn that although people often think of Auckland as having a warm climate, in 2019 Kumeu River recorded a maximum daily temperature of only 29.3°C and that was for just one day in January. This relatively cool season has given lithe-textured, powerful wines with plenty of concentration and the most arresting feature is the strong spine of acidity that runs through them all.
Although fairly restrained now, the potential is obvious. And best of all, these are extraordinarily well-priced for the quality level. These wines are indeed ‘something special’ and should be in every NZ wine-lovers cellar.