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Kumeu River

Kumeu River is a New Zealand wine icon, the equal of Ata Rangi and Stonyridge Larose. On an indistinct site in the small rural community of Kumeu Nort...

Kumeu River is a New Zealand wine icon, the equal of Ata Rangi and Stonyridge Larose. On an indistinct site in the small rural community of Kumeu North of Auckland Michael Brajkovich MW and his family craft what are astonishingly good Chardonnays, up there with the best in the world.

The Brajkovich family first purchased their property in 1944, which already had a small vineyard. Serendipitously they had chosen a site superbly suited to Chardonnay thanks to its temperate climate and clay over sandstone soils. But it was not until the 1980’s that the quality of the site would become clear as they cleared it of the hybrid grape varieties that at the time were popular in New Zealand and planted classic grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.

Of all the grape varieties it was Chardonnay that proved most at home. As part of his Master of Wine studies, which he passed in 1989, Michael Brajkovich, grandson of the founders, travelled widely, including spending the 1983 vintage in France. There he picked up the Burgundian winemaking techniques that he would later apply at Kumeu River, which were at the time little used in New Zealand. The use of barrel fermentation with indigenous yeasts, extended lees ageing and malolactic fermentation, all with high quality oak, gave the Kumeu River wines a level of detail and complexity new to Southern Hemisphere Chardonnay, and long before Australia was even contemplating its modern cooler climate style.

Mate’s Chardonnay has long been the top Kumeu River Chardonnay, named after Michael’s father Mate. In recent years it has been joined by a range of single vineyard Chardonnays - Hunting Hill planted in 1982 overlooking the Mate’s Vineyard and Coddington, from the Coddington family vineyard, long term growers for Kumeu River. All three are exceptional and long-lived wines that differ only in their expression of their individual vineyards.

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