Chardonnay, Rays Road, Hawkes Bay – 2019
Rays Road is Kumeu River’s new vineyard site in Hawkes Bay. This limestone hillside is at 180 meters altitude, with a northerly aspect. It is dry-farmed to yield high quality grapes for wine under the Rays Road name for the Kumeu River label. This Chardonnay was hand-harvested, whole bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeast in older French Oak barrels to give a wine that is zesty and fragrant, with mineral complexity that is very true to its site.
- Location: Hawkes Bay, North Island
- Cultivation: Sustainable
- Size: 1.2 hectares (currently planted with Chardonnay; the entire vineyard is 30 hectares)
- Vine Age: Planted 2008
- Clones: 95
- Soil: Limestone
- Elevation: 180 meters
- Training: VSP 2.2m x 1.5m
- Brix: 22.5°
80% barrel fermentation, 10% tank fermentation
100% malolactic fermentation
11 months maturation in barrel
- Varietal Composition: 100% Chardonnay
The 2019 vintage was exceptional and produced sensational Chardonnay across all our vineyards. The limestone-based vineyard at Rays Road in Hawkes Bay has yielded some uniquely characterful Chardonnay from this vintage. It has the aroma of citrus peel, flinty minerals and salty seashells. There are creamy, peach-like flavors on the mid-palate, but then it finishes firmly with zesty fresh acidity and a steel backbone.
Kumeu River Chardonnay, Rays Road, Hawkes Bay — 2019 – Vinous – 90 Points
This is just the second vintage of Rays Road, and it is a delightfully restrained yet energetic Chardonnay. Despite the warm, dry year, it has maintained a taut, citrusy structure, lovely fine acid length and an almost salty texture. Winemaker Michael Brajkovich suggested that this tension is, in part, due to differences in ripeness within bunches as well as the site's limestone soils.
Kumeu River Chardonnay, Rays Road, Hawkes Bay – 2019 – James Suckling – 93 Points
A very bold delivery of ripe-peach aromas with some gently buttery undertones. The palate has a smooth, creamy textural build to a fresh, crisp and dry peach finish. Drink now. Screw cap.
Kumeu River Chardonnay, Rays Road, Hawkes Bay – 2019 – Jancis Robinson – 16.5++ Points
Smells just a little rawer than the Kumeu single-vineyard Chardonnays I have just been tasting. Perhaps it was mean of me to taste it after them. I will go back and compare to the Estate 2019 bottling (suaver but probably less long-lived). Good grip and undertow. This site has a lot to say for itself but is just summoning up the courage. I love the eloquent, reverberant finish. The lime-fruited nose and front palate need a bit of time, I think, to shed their apparently simplicity.