Kumeu River Mate's Vineyard Chardonnay 1998
Founded in 1944 by Mick Brajkovich, wife Katé and son Maté, Kumeu River was one of the early pioneers in Auckland, New Zealand, that helped to establish its reputation as a world-class wine region. Still family owned and run, Kumeu River continues to pioneer new frontiers: winemaker Michael Brajkovich became New Zealand’s first member of the prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine, London, they have been testing and championing screw cap closures for close to 20 years and the winery has gone on to become the globally recognized benchmark for non-Burgundy produced Chardonnay. All Kumeu River wines are hand-harvested, whole bunch pressed and demonstrate exclusive use of indigenous yeast fermentation.
The Chardonnays of Kumeu River have gained a strong foothold within the international market, continuously and consistently receiving outstanding accolades. The winery is a globally recognized benchmark for age-worthy Chardonnay outside of Burgundy.
A relatively young but extremely promising wine producing country, New Zealand is widely recognized for its distinctive wines made from the aromatic, Sauvignon blanc.
The world’s most southerly vineyards are found here, with significant climatic variation both between and within the warmer North Island and the cooler South Island. Overall, the climate is maritime, with plenty of rainfall, as well as abundant sunshine. Producers have almost unilaterally embraced cutting-edge winery technology, resulting in clean, high-quality wines at every price point from wallet-friendly to premium.
Sauvignon blanc, known here for its trademark herbaceous character, is at its best in Marlborough but thrives throughout the nation, accounting for an overwhelming majority of the country’s exports. While this is indeed the country’s most planted and successful variety, it is certainly not the only New Zealand grape capable of delighting wine lovers.
Chardonnay is the second-most important white variety and takes on a supple texture with citrus and tropical fruit aromas in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, respectively. Pinot noir, second behind Sauvignon blanc in national production numbers, is at its best in Central Otago—the most southerly winegrowing region in the world! These wines are known for bright and juicy red fruit. Taking cues from the wines of Alsace, aromatic varieties like Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer shine in Martinborough, while red Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have found success in Hawke’s Bay. Throughout New Zealand but especially in Marlborough, Pinot noir and Chardonnay are used to produce traditional method sparkling wines.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.