Kumeu River Chardonnay versus white Burgundy
An amazing blind taste off at Farr Vintners


This was a remarkable tasting, held at Farr Vintners. It brought together New Zealandís most famous Chardonnay producer, Kumeu River, and some top white Burgundies. Invited to pass judgment on these wines were a high-profile bunch of wine writers and merchants, and me. The tasting was held single blind, so we knew which wines were in each flight.

Paul Brajkovich and Jancis Robinson tasting

After each flight we called out our scores (out of 20), and we were also asked to indicate which wine in the flight we thought was the Kiwi imposter. This was much harder than you might imagine.

Here, Iím giving my notes, plus my scores out of 100, plus the group average score out of 20. As you can see, Kumeu River came out incredibly well. I think the first thing that most of us will have done straight after the tasting is to go online and see who has stocks of Kumeu River. They are sensationally good wines.

I think that Chardonnay is one area where the best New World producers have nothing to fear in comparative blind tastings. With Pinot Noir it would be a different story: while Iím a fan of New World Pinot, a similar tasting would see them sticking out more clearly when matched with top Burgundies.  

Flight 1, 2012

Patrick Javiller Meursault Clos du Cromin 2012 Burgundy, France
Sweetly fruited and quite rounded, this is a fresh, gentle wine with lovely citrus fruit and a hint of pineapple richness, as well as a slight saltiness. Delicate and midweight. 92/100 (16.3)

Etienne Sauzet Puligny Montrachet 2012 Burgundy, France
Extremely matchsticky and mineral on the nose. Lively and fresh with pear and citrus fruit on the palate. Linear and reductive and quite appealing if a bit one dimensional at the moment. 93/100 (16.54)

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2012 Kumeu, New Zealand
Fine and fresh with a pure, mineral core and lovely precision. Gentle but bright with midweight citrus and pear as well as subtle hazelnut and toast. 93/100 (17.04)

Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 2012 Burgundy, France
Bright, crisp and pure with focused linear citrus and pear fruit. Just a hint of spicy minerality here. Understated. 91/100 (16.04)

Flight 2, 2010

Niellon Chassagne Montrachet Champs Gain 2010, Burgundy, France
Very fine, nutty, citrus and pear nose with a hint of fennel. Quite powerful with a lean, lemony palate and some real finesse. Pretty but with edges. 93/100 (16.14)

JN Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet Boudriottes 2010 Burgundy, France
Pear and pith nose with some toast and honey. Lemony and salty on the palate with nice density and intensity and a mineral twist. 94/100 (16.21)

Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet Vergers 2010 Burgundy, France
Sweet spun sugar and honeycomb edge to the nose with appealing peach and pear fruit. The palate is bold and linear with some sweetness to the fruit. Quite broad and full. 92/100 (16.75)

Kumeu River Coddington Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 Kumeu, New Zealand
Fine mineral, toasty nose. Lively citrus and pear fruit with a stylish breadth and lovely focus, showing notes of white peach and subtle toast. Youthful and lovely. 94/100 (17.29)

Laguiche Chassagne Montrachet Morgeots 2010 Burgundy, France
Ripe and exotic with a distinctive botrytis-like apricot character to the nose. Open and supple with peach and pear fruit. Linear and fruit driven with this rather unusual exotic personality. 92/100 (16.43)

Flight 3, 2009

Comtes Lafon Meursault 2009 Burgundy, France
Fine, expressive, mineral and toasty on the nose. Very taut with pear and spice notes. The palate is fresh and mineral with a precise toasty quality and real precision. 94/100 (16.75)

Kumeu River Matť's Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 Kumeu, New Zealand
Sweet spun sugar edge to the nose: fine, sweet, pure and linear with generous pear and white peach fruit. Ripe, expressive style, generous and fruity. 93/100 (17.07)

Bouchard Meursault PerriŤres 2009 Burgundy, France
Supple and smooth with nice sweet, textured, open pear, quince and melon notes with a hint of pineapple. Rich, fruity style. 92/100 (17.14)

Girardin Meursault Narvaux 2009 Burgundy, France
Sweet and ripe with baked appleand caramel notes. Quite developed with a honeyed, savoury edge. On its way out. 87/100 (13.07)

Drouhin Meursault PerriŤres 2009 Burgundy, France
Supple, ripe and sweet with pear and white peach fruit and a nice spicy quality. Ripe, generous fruit. Mealy, spicy finish. 91/100 (16.71)

Flight 4, 2007

Fichet Puligny Montrachet Les Referts 2007 Burgundy, France
Powerful and intense with toast, spice, pear and nuts on the nose. Lively, fresh and intense on the palate with a spicy, mineral edge. Has a core of lemony acidity. Precise and profound. 96/100 (16.54)

Sauzet Puligny Montrachet Hameau de Blagny 2007 Burgundy, France
Hints of cabbage and herbs (but nice) to the precise citrus and white peach nose. Lively, focused and fresh with a herb-tinged palate and lovely acidity. 94/100 (16.61)

Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2007 Kumeu, New Zealand
Fine and sweetly fruited with some spicy, nutty notes on the nose. Lively, fresh, lemony palate with keen acidity. Very linear and pure with a bright lemony finish. 94/100 (17.54)

Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Les Clavoillons 2007 Burgundy, France
Buttery, caramel edge to the nose. Rich, sweet apple and pear fruit but showing some premature development, with baked apples and bold, sweet pear fruit. 88/100 (12.39)

Drouhin Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles 2007 Burgundy, France
Developed, sweetly spiced nose with some buttery notes. Sweet, open, savoury citrus and ripe apple fruit on the palate with some evolution but maintaining freshness. 92/100 (15.93)

Louis Carillon Puligny Montrachet Champ Canet 2007 Burgundy, France
Mellow, smooth and sweet with ripe pear, apple and peach fruit, as well as a hint of figginess. Broad and sweetly fruited. 91/100 (16.5)

See also:

Kumeu River: an article from a visit and an extensive vertical tasting
Visiting Central Otago, New Zealand (series)
Visiting Martinborough, New Zealand (series)

Wines tasted 05/15  
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