The Kumeu River Mates Vineyard came into the family in 1944. Matés Brajkovich planted a new vineyard of Chardonnay in 1990 and the first release was 1994. This happened to coincide with the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Brajkovich Family’s arrival at Kumeu River. Kumeu River Mates is always the best wine they make. At least Kumeu River Mates eventually is the best wine they make. Of all the Chardonnay they produce, Mates is the one that needs time to show its quality. Kumeu River Mates Vineyard Chardonnay shows its best after 5-10 years in bottle. Pair Kumeu River Mates with a dish that is rich and creamy but won’t overshadow the wine. A simple risotto would be perfect.
Kumeu River Mates Vineyard Chardonnay is hand-harvested, whole-bunch pressed. It receives indigenous yeast fermentation in barrel. All of the Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay goes through malolactic fermentation. Then it spends 11 months in barrel.
Kumeu River Mates Vineyard Wine Notes
Cameron Douglas MS
“Tense, ripe, pure, mineral, finesse, charm and beguiling. This is the best Mate’s I have encountered – the vintage says it all – aromas and flavours of apples and peaches, citrus of grapefruit and lemon then layers of new-ish wood adding in texture, harmony, tension and length. The acidity is ripe and almost sweet to the taste also suggesting a light saline note. The palate is full and lengthy, pure and generous. Available from August – put your name down for a case. Best drinking likely beginning 2022 through 2032.”
Kumeu River Mates Vineyard Chardonnay Winemaker Notes
“The 2019 vintage was exceptional and produced sensational Chardonnay across all our vineyards. 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.”
The Brajkovich family have carved out a fine reputation based on their interpretation of the Burgundian varieties grown North of Auckland. There is a strong focus on regionality and single-vineyard wines. But their entry-level ‘Village’ range offers remarkable drinkability and complexity for the price. The Kumeu township is known for nothing except for the Kumeu River vineyards, and they are the only property producing quality wines in the region. Michael sources the grapes from vineyard plots within a 5km radius of the winery.
Auckland is one of New Zealand’s oldest wine regions, established in the early 1900s. Auckland is a large, geographically diverse area, encompassing three distinctive subregions. The island of Waiheke, West Auckland and Matakana.
The real gem of Auckland is the Chardonnay of Kumeu River.
The grape that you can plant anywhere, in any climate and do anything to and it will still taste like an OK wine. When people hit the sweet spot of site, climate, cropping and winemaking, Chardonnay becomes a magical wine that will age gracefully but charm you at any age. Chardonnays can range from cool-climate lean and citrusy to warmer climate tropical and overt. Oak and lees can add flavouring as can malolactic fermentation.
New Zealand shot to fame with their unique take on Sauvignon Blanc. The wines of Marlborough were unlike anything in the world at the time. And over a decade on, a lot of people still love that style. In my opinion, they dropped the ball. It could have been the next Champagne: Limited, rare, expensive. The following fashion was the robust Pinots Noir from Central Otago, for about 18 months they were the hot ticket red.
On the back of these fads, wine lovers discovered other regions. Pinot from Martinborough, Cabernet from Waiheke Island, reds from Hawkes Bay, the whites and Pinot from Nelson.
For me, New Zealand has a lot of potential, and perhaps their best wines are yet to come. I would argue that the wines are made to drink now or drink young. They are delicate with overt fruit, and most don’t chase savoury flavours.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is impressive. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product, including the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. Terroir is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
It is interesting to know that you can make white wine from almost any grape. The colour comes from the skins, and if there is no contact, there is no colour. White wines tend to be delicate, perfumed, higher in acid and lower in alcohol. It seems for this and many other reasons, it is hard to make an incredibly impressive white wine. But those that have mastered the art are indeed some of the best winemakers in the world.
It is a falsehood to think that white wine does not age as well as red wine. But it is correct that white wine, as a rule, doesn’t age for as long.