Browse Tag


Prince’s ex

[kumeu river chardonnay]Kumeu River 2000 Chardonnay Maté’s Vineyard (Kumeu) — This was, I think, the last cork-finished vintage at Kumeu River, and it was somewhat amusing to not be able to just twist it open. It’s aged well, with the minerality it showed in its youth now fully fleshed, its brighter fruit turning to bronzed representations thereof, and yet all the lively structure still intact. Some complexity. Very, very well balanced. It could go a good deal longer, I’d think, and more complexity will undoubtedly result, but for my palate I’d think now to five years from now would be ideal. New Zealand can make world-competitive chardonnay, and Kumeu River is a proof of concept. (8/16)


[grapes]Brajkovich “Kumeu River” 2000 Chardonnay (Kumeu) – Nowhere near maturity, and not due to the longevity-increasing qualities of screwcap, either; this one’s under cork. Peach has blue-shifted slightly to apricot, orange to pear, and there’s an ever-so-slight emergence of both tan earth and light spice, but with the fruit still mostly primary and the good structure still firmly in place, the only real sign of movement so far is a reduction in the textural presence of oak (though as noted earlier, the aged and spicy component thereof is still quite shy). I’d let it rest for another five years, at least, before venturing another taste. (9/09)

Kumeu are you?

[grapes]Kumeu River 2005 Chardonnay (Kumeu) – Sulfurous and a little clumsy. Very, very sulfurous, in fact. Difficult to assess. 24 hours later, things haven’t changed much. (4/09)

Kumeu River 2005 Chardonnay (Kumeu) – Take two. Sulfurous, but less difficult than the previous bottle. Still, it doesn’t add up to much. This exact wine was very enticing six months ago, so it has obviously entered some form of hibernation. Optimists (and those who’ve had well-aged Kumeu River chardonnays; I have, and they’ve been wonderful) will assume it’s a normal closed period. Pessimists will eye the screwcap with reductive suspicion. I don’t know which is the correct assessment, but I do know the wine’s in no mood for a party at the moment. (4/09)


[vineyard]Kumeu River 2005 Chardonnay (Kumeu) – Stone fruit with fine balancing acidity, restrained citrus, and a lot of sun and crystalline soil. Very, very impressive, with the structure to age and develop for a long while. (10/08)

Cry me a River

[bottle]Kumeu River 2005 Chardonnay (Kumeu) – The elephant in the room: there’s some obvious reduction at first opening (this wine is screwcapped by one of New Zealand’s most ardent advocates of widespread screwing…wait, that came out wrong). It completely disappears after about 15 minutes, though it’s replaced by a sulfurous, matchstick edginess. And then, there’s brilliant, sunrise-through-a-window acidity, brittle grapefruit, and a lot of primal, grapey rawness. This is structured and strikingly long, and though it lacks complexity now, I suspect time will bring some. Kumeu River remains one of New Zealand’s best producers of this often-insipid grape. (10/08)

Village idiot

[vineyard]Kumeu River “Village” 2004 Chardonnay (Kumeu) – Sulfur, sulfur, and sulfur, with a pale, hollow simulacrum of chardonnay underneath the stink. Avoid; even if the sulfur goes away, the wine isn’t worth the wait. (9/08)

Peach Melba

[bottle]Kumeu River 1999 Merlot Malbec “Melba” (Kumeu) – Thick, even a bit sludgy, with a loud drone of muddy blackfruit. This hasn’t developed any complexity with age, it has just black dwarfed into itself. It’s not unpleasant in any way, and were it a young wine the performance would be fine, but this isn’t why I held the wine. In any case, Kumeu River has never been famous for their reds, so this was a long shot to begin with. It should “age” for a long time yet, but I don’t know that it will develop. (8/08)