The wines of Kumeu River
One of New Zealand's best Chardonnay producers, from Kumeu in West Auckland

Website: www.kumeuriver.co.nz

Kumeu river is a family owned winery, and among the most highly respected of all New Zealand wineries, especially for their complex, powerful Chardonnays. The family in question, Brajkovich, arrived in New Zealand in 1937, having migrated from the Croatian village of ivogoće. Like many Croatian expats, they settled in West Auckland, moving to Henderson, where Mick, Kat and their son Mat worked in vineyards and orchards. They saved enough money to buy their own property in Kumeu by 1944, and this had a small vineyard.

They made some wine and sold it under the label San Marino. In the late 1970s they moved away from the hybrid varieties common at the time to more familiar vinifera varieties. Then, during the 1980s, Mats sons Michael, Milan and Paul got involved, and the winery changed its name to Kumeu River Wines. They realized that Chardonnay showed great potential in this region, and began to focus more on this.

All four of Mats children are involved in the business: Michael is winemaker, Milan looks after the vineyards, and Paul and Marijana cover marketing.

Currently, production is just over 20 000 cases, from 30 hectares of estate vineyards and 10 hectares from local growers. All grapes are hand harvested, and fermentations are spontaneous, without added cultured yeast. 

UK agent: Clark Foyster Wines

THE WINES

Kumeu River Mats Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 West  Auckland, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Taut, intense, citrussy nose with toast and herb notes. Very tight-wound with real focus. The palate shows some sweet peachy characters plus intensely savoury citrus, toast and fig notes. Very crisp with high acidity and structured, pithy notes. Real potential for development. 94/100 (20 The Wine Society, Berry Bros & Rudd) 01/11

Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2008West Auckland, New Zealand
Fresh, fruity and a bit toasty with nice citrus fruit and some appley notes. Nice fruit with some minerality. A bit Chablis-like, but richer. 91/100 09/10

Kumeu River Chardonnay 2006 West Auckland, New Zealand
Intense, spicy, figgy nose is boldly flavoured and dense with some nutty, toasty richness and real depth. Lovely rich style. 93/100 09/10

Kumeu River Chardonnay 2006 West Auckland, New Zealand
Very fine, toasty refined nose with real intensity. The palate is complex and taut with nice toastiness and lovely herby, figgy fruit. Rich but balanced, this is just lovely. 92/100 (15.50 The Wine Society) 09/10

Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay 2007 West Auckland, New Zealand
Expressive and quite fine with complex toasty notes and some fresh citrus character, as well as some spiciness. Dense, concentrated and full with real depth. 94/100 09/10

Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2007 West Auckland, New Zealand
Bold and rich yet focused and fresh with nice citrus notes. Lemony freshness supports subtle toastiness. Expressive and fine. 94/100 09/10

Kumeu Rover Mats Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 West Auckland, New Zealand
Lively and fine with lovely dense peach, fig and pear notes. Dense and concentrated, yet fresh and bright with lovely lemony notes and nice toastiness. 95/100 09/10

Kumeu River Pinot Noir 2007 West Auckland, New Zealand
Warm, spicy and cherryish with bright fruit. The palate is herby with a slightly sour plum character to the herby cherry fruit. Earthy finish. 86/100 02/10

Kumeu River Pinot Noir 2008 West Auckland, New Zealand
Fresh herby cherry fruit nose. Bright, juicy and supple with a strong savoury, herby character. Very herbal in style. 88/100 02/10

See also:

Visiting Central Otago, New Zealand (series)
Visiting Martinborough, New Zealand (series)

Wines tasted 01/11  
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