Latest 2018 vintage of New Zealand's finest Chardonnays from Kumeu River EstateTuesday, September 17
Paul Brajkovich of Kumeu River Wines in New Zealand visited us last week, with samples of their new 2018 vintage. Due to land early in 2020, the single vineyard wines from this one-of-a-kind estate are in very short supply. After severe frosts, the 2018 harvest was 30% down in terms of quantity. Happily though it was of excellent quality and the wines have a wonderful supple texture. Vintage character can be as important here as in a classic European vineyard region, something we do not always associate with 'New World' wines.
Re-tasting the range today we found the same extraordinary delineation of terroir we observed in the 2017s. Once again the Coddington was a favourite, with a broad structure and great depth from the rich clay soils of the Coddington vineyard. The Hunting Hill was as seductive as before, with its uncanny resemblance to premier cru Puligny, but the Maté's Vineyard stood out even more this year as equal in quality to Côte d'Or Grand Cru wines like Corton Charlemagne, for little more than the price of the Hunting Hill.
New this year are the wines from the Ray's Road vineyard in Hawke's Bay. With land prices soaring in Kumeu (a desirable rural suburb of Auckland) the Brajkovichs have been searching for new vineyard land with sufficient promise. Purchased in 2017, this hillside vineyard (pictured below) is set on limestone rock and was originally planted as a joint venture between Trinity Hill and one of Pouilly-Fumé's most well-known growers, Pascal Jolivet. The Ray's Road Chardonnay joins the other single vineyard wines and has a piercing mineral character.
Completing the line-up, the Sauvignon Blanc is from the same site and has a distinctly Loire-ish feel, with a pronounced flinty, smoky nose and an elegant floral character, in part due to careful hand-harvesting. At just £12.18 including VAT this is an excellent alternative to Pouilly-Fumé.
Whilst approachable young, over time Kumeu's Chardonnays develop brilliant depth and complexity while retaining freshness in exactly the way some top white burgundies didn't a few years back (an issue happily now behind them). We recommend laying these down for that distinct pleasure of opening a white wine in five or seven years (or more) and finding it as fresh and exciting as when first bottled.
Our offer of the 2017 vintage earlier this year was very popular. Rarely have we had so many spontaneous emails from customers having tried the wine ('sensational!'). For the single vineyard wines, the quantities below may well be all we have to offer until the 2019 vintage arrives, so if you are interested (and you probably should be!) we recommend ordering straight away.