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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Friday, March 18, 2016

Kumeu River releases their 2014 Vintage.

Phil Parker is a wine writer and operates Fine Wine & Food Tours in Auckland. See:
Phil’s new cellar door book ‘NZ Wine Regions – A Visitor’s Guide’ is now available on Amazon Kindle

Two weeks ago, West Auckland’s Kumeu River winery released its 2014 vintage line-up at The French Café. I love my job. The wines were superb as were the matched food pairings.

Kumeu River is an iconic New Zealand chardonnay producer. The winery was established in 1944 by the late Maté Brajkovich. Their chardonnay is listed in the top 100 by the influential US Wine Spectator magazine. Maté’s widow, the dynamic Melba, heads this family winery. Eldest son Michael is winemaker. Sons Milan and Paul are respectively in charge of viticulture and sales and marketing, and daughter Marijana is in charge of accounting.
2014 was a very good year for grape growing in Kumeu, with good fruit volumes and a hot, dry extended summer that allowed the fruit to be picked at optimum ripeness and quality.  As Michael says in his notes, “…the word that best describes everything about chardonnay in 2014 is generous.”
White wines are their mainstay – chardonnay, pinot gris and gewürztraminer. They also grow pinot noir and merlot. All grapes are grown on-site on the sweeping vineyards either side of State Highway 1, or in managed blocks in west Kumeu. All grapes are hand harvested, plus gentle whole bunch pressing is used to extract the best juice from their white wines. The top tier Maté’s Vineyard chardonnay (only 1000 cases per year) comes from the original vineyard site, directly over the road from the winery and cellar door. The two other single vineyard chardonnays are the Hunting Hill and Coddington, with their premium pinot noir also sourced from the Hunting Hill.

( Pic of Michael Brajkovich at the tasting. )

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2014 $30 NZD
The Estate is a blend from up to 9 vineyards, and is the flagship export wine. Enticing aromas of hazelnut, vanilla, nectarine and honeysuckle open up in the mouth with ripe mandarin, nectarine, white peach and marzipan. Very approachable.

Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay 2014 $50 
Funky yeast aromas with a whiff of minerality and apricot. On the palate it is creamy and seamless with white peach and a medium citrus crisp finish.

Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2014 $60 
Lemon squash and funky yeast on the nose. Complex palate of lime, quince, ripe nectarine and a hint of toastiness, plus some herbal notes.

Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 $70 
The premium chardonnay grown on the original block worked by Mate back in 1944, this wine is made from the Mendoza chardonnay clone. It has aromas of mandarin and a hint of brioche yeast. In the mouth it opens up into a fuller palate of toast, mandarin, peach and nectarine with a firm crisp and lengthy finish.

Kumeu River Hunting Hill Pinot Noir 2014 $50 
Emerging as another premium wine, their pinot noir is gaining complexity with each vintage. Smoke, cherry and plum aromas, with a savoury cherry and plum palate. A dry finish with medium firm tannins.

Phil Parker hosts the best Auckland wine tours in the known Universe. Just sayin'