2020 Chardonnay Kumeu River

New Zealand is best known for its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. However, the country also produces a Burgundian-style chardonnay that is enjoying growing respect: the chardonnay from the Brajkovich family's Kumeu River Winery. 

Whereas the grandparents Brajkovich still had to acquire their first own land by working in a gum plantation, the 3rd generation of Croatian immigrants produces 250,000 bottles of wine every year. The grapes come from 30 hectares of their own fields supplemented by yields from local wine growers (10 hectares).

The big change
The original name of the wine estate is San Marino Vineyards. At first, the family used fungus-resistant hybrid grape vines. Hybrid vines were created by crossing Vitis Vinifera with other grape varieties in the fight against Phylloxera and other plant infestations. In northern EU countries, people plant these varieties because they need less sun to develop enough sugar, but there is much debate about it. 
From 1979 onwards, the family decided to replace hybrid vines with authentic varieties, a decision they made to improve the quality of the wines. In New Zealand's humid climate, the choice is a brave step. The grapes are harvested by hand and wild yeasts deployed. That the new style of wine is to their liking is evidenced by the upbeat response from press and public. As a result of the different modus operandi, the estate's name changes to Kumeu River Winery.  

At the auction
You will find Kumeu River's two most prestigious wines in December: 2020 Hunting Hill Chardonnay and 2020 Matés Vinyard (96 and 100 points respectively, Nick Stock for James Suckling) 
  • 2020 Hunting Hill Chardonnay in lots 4324 to 4325
  • 2020 Matés Vinyard Chardonnay in lots 4326 to 4331
Kumeu River’s wines are bottled under screwcap, a prevalent choice amongst winemakers in New Zealand and Australia, although it is still early days, the wines have been known to age very well under their screwcaps.

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