Media Conversations

Jancis Robinson: Kumeu River Chardonnay vertical bonanza

“…the blue-chip US importer Wilson Daniels picked up Kumeu River as long ago as 1988.”

 

In an October 10th post Jancis Robinson reports on the impressive results of  her recent vertical tasting of Kumeu River Chardonnay’s ranging from 2006 through 2017. Below are a few key excerpts and you can view the aritcle in it’s entirety via this link.

Do we need white burgundy? This thought went through my head at the end of an amazing, and impressively consistent, tasting of 48 Chardonnays from Kumeu River in New Zealand last month. Do we need white burgundy? This thought went through my head at the end of an amazing, and impressively consistent, tasting of 48 Chardonnays from Kumeu River in New Zealand last month. “

…when a group of wine professionals assembled at Farr Vintners in London to tackle vintages 2006 to 2017 of Kumeu River’s Estate Chardonnay and their three single-vineyard bottlings, there was only one wine that was anything less than impeccable. “

Paul Brajkovich, who presented the wines, characterised the vintages, explaining that, despite Auckland’s fairly low latitude, prevailing breezes off the sea mean that they rarely see summer temperatures above 30 ºC (86 ºF), with mid 20s being much more usual.

2017 – cool, slightly small vintage with some ‘weather events’ during harvest (see Elaine’s 2017 – cyclone-hit but no write-offfor a detailed report). Hand harvesting was essential to retain only clean fruit.

2016 – pretty good, a bit riper than 2015. Peachier than 2017.

2015 – cool and very good with a fairly small crop. Citrus Chardonnays.

2014 – a spectacular vintage; nothing went wrong. Very clean, ripe fruit that was easy to harvest. Generous in flavour and texture. Quite tight initially but a benchmark vintage.

2013 – very good quality shrunk, and concentrated, by September frost. They hired helicopters to try to avoid crop loss but there just wasn’t any warm air to push down. ‘We spent a lot of money but it was futile’, said Paul. ‘We made only 200 to 300 cases of the single-vineyard wines as opposed to more than 1,000 usually.

2012 – Quite similar to 2017. A cooler year with some challenges just pre-harvest. Not as concentrated as 2013 or 2014 but supple. Good for drinking now.

2011 – Like 2012 but tough because there was so much rain at harvest. They needed twice as many pickers as usual. Tricky.

2010 – Very, very good. Like 2013 in that there was a frost in September 2009 which concentrated the wines. Not as acid as 2013 but the wines have needed bottle age.

2009 – Big crop but no weather problems. Slightly cooler than usual in early summer. Clean fruit and a bit less ripe than 2014 and 2010.

2008 – Very warm year. Deepish colour and a little bit of botrytis.

2007 – Very good vintage but cooler and a bit concentrated. Citrus and mineral.

2006 – Perfect growing season, like 2014.

I found the 2011s were very distinctive (though the single-vineyard 2011s were perfectly sound) while the 2009s were relatively soft and ripe (rather like 2009 burgundies). Paul Brajkovich obviously saw 2014 and 2010 as the standout vintages but I found the 2015s to be pretty impressive too, and the 2017s are clearly going to be exceptional in the long term. None of these 12 year-old wines was remotely ropey even if the 2006 and 2007 Estate Chardonnay are arguably just past their best.”

Kumeu River is a truly great producer of fine, ageworthy Chardonnay at more than fair prices.

Read the full article at jancisrobinson.com

Jancis Robinson, October 10, 2018
logo
Jancis Robinson: Kumeu River Chardonnay vertical bonanza