Kumeu River, Mate's Vineyard Chardonnay, 2016

Kumeu River, Mate's Vineyard Chardonnay, 2016

  • icon-type Type

    White

  • icon-year Year

    2016

  • icon-style Style

    Dry

  • icon-country Country

    New Zealand

  • icon-alcohollevel Alcohol level

    13.5%

  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Chardonnay 100%

The Mate’s Vineyard is usually the most reserved and unyielding when young with the nose being closed, just giving hints of the golden queen peach and mineral notes that we expect from Mate’s Vineyard. On the palate however, the flavour is very concentrated and distinctly richer than the other 2016 wines, but maintaining a perfect balance and freshness that sets this wine apart and makes it wonderful. This is a wine of immense concentration that will be very long lived.

About Kumeu River

Kumeu River is a New Zealand wine estate located just outside the town of Kumeu, 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) northwest of central Auckland. It is particularly known for its Burgundian-style Chardonnay, of which it makes several expressions. The wines are critical favourites, and the 2014 Maté's Vineyard Chardonnay was named one of the 50 best releases of 2015 by The Wine Advocate.

Despite being well north of New Zealand's other viticultural regions, Kumeu is kept cool by its proximity to the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. This helps the estate develop aromatics in its early-ripening varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The Kumeu River portfolio also includes varietal Merlot, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines.

The estate was founded by the Brajkovich family in 1944, seven years after they had emigrated from Croatia. In the 1980s, it moved from growing hybrid grape varieties for basic reds and whites and fortified wines to more internationally known varietals.

Grape variety
Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used in the production of white wine. The variety originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France, but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand. For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a ‘rite of passage’ and an easy entry into the international wine market.

The Chardonnay grape itself is neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the wine being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France, to New World wines with oak and tropical fruit flavours. In cool climates (such as Chablis and the Carneros AVA of California), Chardonnay wine tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavours of green plum, apple, and pear. In warmer locations (such as the Adelaide Hills and Mornington Peninsula in Australia and Gisborne and Marlborough region of New Zealand), the flavours become more citrus, peach, and melon, while in very warm locations (such as the Central Coast AVA of California), more fig and tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango come out. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavours with buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut notes.

Chardonnay is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne and Franciacorta in Italy.

Chardonnay's popularity peaked in the late 1980s, then gave way to a backlash among those wine connoisseurs who saw the grape as a leading negative component of the globalisation of wine. Nonetheless, it is one of the most widely planted grape varieties, with 210,000 hectares (520,000 acres) worldwide, second only to Airén among white wine grapes and fifth among all wine grapes.

Chardonnay lends itself to almost any style of wine making from dry still wines, to sparkling wines to sweet late harvest and even botrytized wines (though its susceptibility to other less favourable rot makes these wines rarer). The two winemaking decisions that most widely affect the end result of a Chardonnay wine is whether or not to use malolactic fermentation and the degree of oak influence used for the wine. With malolactic fermentation (or MLF), the harder malic acid gets converted into the softer lactic acid, and diacetyl which creates the "buttery-ness" that is associated with some styles of Chardonnay. The wines that do not go through MLF will have more green (unripe) apple like flavours. Oak can be introduced during fermentation or after in the form of the barrel aging. Depending on the amount of charring that the oak was treated with, this can introduce a "toastiness" and flavours that many wine drinkers mistake as a characteristic of the grape itself. These flavours can include caramel, cream, smoke, spice, coconut, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla.

Other winemaking decisions that can have a significant effect include the temperature of fermentation and what time, if any, that the wine allowed to spend aging on the lees. Burgundian winemaking tends to favour extended contact on the lees and even "stirring up" the lees within the wine while it is aging in the barrel in a process known as bâttonage. Colder fermentation temperatures produces more "tropical" fruit flavours like mango and pineapple. The "Old World" style of winemaking favours the use of wild, or ambient yeast, though some will also use specially cultivated yeast that can impart aromatic qualities to the wine. A particular style of yeast used in Champagne is the Prise de Mousse that is cultivated for use worldwide in sparkling Chardonnay wines. A potential drawback of using wild yeast is that the fermentation process can go very slow with the results of the yeasts being very unpredictable and producing potentially a very different wine each year. One Burgundian winemaker that favours the use of only wild yeast is Domaine des Comtes Lafon which had the fermentation of its 1963 Chardonnay batch take 5 years to complete when the fermentation process normally only takes a matter of weeks.

The time of harvesting is a crucial decision because the grape quickly begins to lose acidity as it ripens. For sparkling wine production, the grapes will be harvested early and slightly unripe to maintain the acid levels. Sparkling Chardonnay based wines tend to exhibit more floral and steely flavours in their youth. As the wine ages, particularly if it spends significant time on lees, the wines will develop "toasty" notes. Chardonnay grapes usually have little trouble developing sugar content, even in cooler climates, which translates into high potential alcohol levels and limits the need for chaptalisation. On the flip side, low acid levels can be a concern which make the wine taste "flabby" and dull. Winemakers can counteract this by adding tartaric acid in a process known as "acidification". In cooler climates, the extract and acidity of Chardonnay is magnified which has the potential of producing very concentrated wines that can develop through bottle aging. Chardonnay can blend well with other grapes and still maintain some of its unique character. The grapes most often blended with Chardonnay include Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Sémillon.

Due to the "malleability" of Chardonnay in winemaking and its ability to reflect its terroir, there is not one distinct universal "style" or set of constants that could be applied to Chardonnay made across the globe. According to Jancis Robinson, a sense of "smokiness" is one clue that could be picked up in a blind tasting of Chardonnay but there are many styles that do not have any "smoky" notes. Compared to other white wine grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Viognier-Chardonnay has a more subtle and muted nose with no overwhelming aromatics that jump out of the wine glass. The identifying styles of Chardonnay are regionally based. For example, pineapple notes are more commonly associated with Chardonnay from Napa Valley while Chablis will have more notes of green apples. While many examples of Chardonnay can benefit from a few years of bottle aging, especially if they have high acidity, most Chardonnays are meant to be consumed in their youth. A notable exception to this is the most premium examples of Chablis and white Burgundies.

Alternative Names: Morillon, Pinot Chardonnay, Feiner Weisser Burgunder

About Kumeu

Kumeu is a winegrowing sub-region of Auckland on New Zealand's North Island. The small towns of Kumeu, Huapai and Waimauku, 16 miles (26km) northwest of the Auckland central business district, are home to a handful of boutique wineries, popular cellar door operations offering wine tasting to tourists and the urban masses, and the head offices of some of New Zealand's biggest wine brands – not all of whom have vineyards in the vicinity. Taut, elegant white wines made here from Chardonnay are widely regarded to be some of New Zealand's best.

Kumeu's history is dominated by Croatian settlers who arrived in the region after trying their luck on the northern kauri gumfields in the late 19th Century. These settlers brought viticultural know-how from their homeland and, by the 1940s, a wine industry had sprung up in the hilly, undulating land surrounding the newly settled town of Kumeu. This legacy continues today, and many of the wineries that started in Kumeu are still run by the descendants of these early arrivals.

Kumeu is located eight miles (12km) from the Tasman Sea in the west and about 12 miles (20km) from the Pacific Ocean in the east. While Kumeu sits at the relatively northern latitude of 36°S (a similar distance from the Equator as southern Spain), summer temperatures rarely exceed 85F (30C). This is due to the temperature-moderating sea breezes that come from both coasts, cooling the vineyards and extending the ripening period. This has proved vital to the development of flavour in the Chardonnay grapes, while the acidity of the berries is not compromised.

Humidity can be a problem during the growing season in Kumeu, however, as can the fertile, water-retaining soils mostly based on clay and loam. Wineries have overcome this problem with judicious selection of varieties and rootstocks, and experiments with various trellising systems have also helped winegrowers to decide on the best possible options to reduce disease and over cropping.

Some of New Zealand's biggest wine names are based in the countryside surrounding Kumeu, including Nobilo, Coopers Creek and Babich. These wineries source grapes from other parts of the country, and in particular from Hawke's Bay and Marlborough. The smaller wineries that are persevering with this somewhat troublesome region are reaping the benefits: the Chardonnay made in Kumeu has achieved something of a cult status worldwide. Merlot, Pinotage and Pinot Gris are also planted.

There are also one or two vineyards in more isolated locations within a few miles of Kumeu, including Waimarie, the estate owned by Steve Nobilo, in the Muriwai Valley.

Regular price $1,168.00

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