Kumeu River Chardonnay
Well known to wine lovers, the Kumeu River estate is surrounded by the suburbs of Auckland in New Zealand’s North Island. The Chardonnays are handmade by Mike Brajkovich, the country’s first Master of Wine, and marketed by his brother Paul. Last September, Farr Vintners’ The Greatest Kumeu River Tasting Ever showed all 12 vintages from its four bottlings – Estate, Coddington, Hunting Hill and Maté’s Vineyard – from 2006 to 2017, all under screwcap. Over a morning, 18 tasters sampled 48 wines and there was not a single disappointment: far from it. Jancis Robinson MW pondered: ‘Do we need white Burgundy?’ The florality, fruit, precision and depth of these wines was unmatched. While the Chevalier-Montrachet-like Maté’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 and the CortonCharlemagne-like 2010 (both 97/100pts from me, with a decade in front of them) took the group’s vote, they are both sold out. So I recommend the 2017, to which I gave a modest 94, drinking from 2019-2032 (£23ib, Farr Vintners). The mostly clay soil is friable, the 2.6ha vineyard is sheltered, so the fruit is both rich and dense, texture coming from long skin contact. Compared to the 2017s in the other ranges, this has something more, as the Brajkovich family had realised from its very first vintage in 1992. A triumph.