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From a single plot situated next to Kumeu River’s legendary Maté’s vineyard, this starry Kiwi chardonnay has a touch of struck match and vanilla on the nose, with green apple and citrus peel coming through on the fine, balanced and refreshing finish. Supremely classy.
Product Code: NZ10391
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The Brajkovich family own the highly regarded Kumeu River Estate near Auckland. Although Kumeu is a rather less fashionable wine district than some on New Zealand’s North Island, the Brajkovichs have proven that it is possible to make wonderful wines here. Michael Brajkovich, who was incidentally the first New Zealander to become a Master of Wine has been the winemaker since 1982. His non-conformist and forward-thinking approach has been particularly successful in creating wines that show the hallmarks of New Zealand although there is a definite Old Word inspiration throughout. Michael’s brothers Milan and Paul look after the vineyards and sales respectively so it is all a real family effort. Pinot noir here is restrained in structure and discreet of fruit and definitely more akin to Burgundy than New Zealand. Both the Kumeu River Estate and top Maté’s Vineyard chardonnays are barrel-fermented and aged - they are also unusually ageworthy for New Zealand whites – and are thought of as some of the world’s best chardonnays. Kumeu pinot gris successfully balances vibrant fruit aromas with a smooth texture reminiscent of good Alsace examples. The well-priced Kumeu River Village range is made with the same commitment as Kumeu’s top wines and offers well-integrated stylish wines for everyday enjoyment.
Still a baby when compared with other regions, New Zealand has quickly earned a reputation for top-quality wine. New Zealand might be a relative newcomer to the wine world (in 1960, the country had fewer than 400 hectares of vine) but its rise to pre-eminence is extraordinary. The precise, pure flavour of its wines has captured the attention of wine drinkers; Society sales certainly reflect this.The country’s two islands cover a vast area from north to south (it is often quoted in wine books that if New Zealand was in the northern hemisphere, the country would stretch from North Africa to Paris). The maritime climate is influenced by the strong prevailing winds of the Pacific Ocean and the striking mountainous terrain. These factors give the islands a wide range of growing conditions; broadly speaking, the regions of the North Island tend to be warmer than the cooler South Island.The cool New Zealand climate offers real opportunity for aromatic varieties like sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot gris and gewurztraminer . Of the latter three, young plantings mean many styles rely more on sugar than fruit, which we avoid buying. But the very best share the intensity and palate weight of great Alsace examples with vibrant, lifted flavours. South Island’s Marlborough region is the benchmark setter for the former, and there are many pungently aromatic sauvignons that are stunning. Look out, too, for some of the exciting sub-regional wines – the Awatere is Marlborough’s coolest valley, now making really attractive, delicate and grassy wines, and Nelson across the hills is yielding superb wines from quality conscious producers like Neudorf. The first sauvignon blanc vines were planted in Marlborough around 30 years ago, when most farmers were raising cattle or growing fruit. The wines have since taken the world by storm. Farms have been replaced by vineyards, and today, chardonnay and pinot also flourish in Marlborough’s cool climate. The choice is sensational, so is the consistency in quality. However, Marlborough is not only about sauvignon blanc and there are crisp, juicy chardonnays and ripe but balanced pinot noirs of excellence.Further south is Central Otago, in the centre of the island. Pinot noir is something of a speciality here, though on the wrong site it can have difficulty reaching full maturity in this continental climate. The best seasons produce the country’s most dazzling examples of the grape, full-flavoured and superbly pure, and the greatest wines of this scenic region are in high demand around the worldThe north island also boasts excellent wine regions. North of the city of Auckland there is the Bay of Islands where a unique microclimate helps winemakers produce some wonderful reds, and the Brajkovich family’s Kumeu River Estate, specialising in rich but elegant chardonnay, can be found just north-west of New Zealand's biggest city. Waiheke Island, just off the coast close to Auckland, also produces some excellent wines.Hawkes Bay on the east coast of the North Island covers an extensive area of rolling hills, a sweep of coastline and the sharply dominant Te Mata Peak. The warm climate successfully ripens red grape varieties, the very best grown in the gravelly alluvial soils of the Gimblett Gravels appellation. Syrah is now adding its name to the roll call of successful varieties like cabernet and merlot. Chardonnay is well established here too, and the area makes some of New Zealand’s fullest and ripest examples.Close to Wellington at the southern tip of the North Island is Martinborough, arguably New Zealand’s most exciting area for pinot noir. The long growing season is particularly suitable to the slow, gradual ripening that this Burgundian grape so enjoys.
"Loved this wine! Totally different from other new world chardonnays. A fine wine beautifully made with a variety of fascinating flavours."
I would recommend this wine
"Loved this wine! Totally different from other new world chardonnays. A fine wine beautifully made with a variety of fascinating flavours."
I would recommend this wine
The Daily Telegraph 8th Jun 2019
"50 best wines for the
summer: Kumeu River is a wine producer based close to Auckland where it makes
extremely smart chardonnay – restrained, gently oaked and with bolts of yellow
citrus playing through the smell of struck match. It’s also responsible for this
excellent Society own-label. - Victoria Moore"
midweekwines.co.uk 13th Mar 2019
"Amidst our long
running love affair with New Zealand’s sauvignon blanc, we often lose sight of
what treasures the country produces from other varieties – such as this classy
chardonnay from the North Island.
[This] crisp and fresh [wine] has apple, quince and ripe pear fruit, good lemon
acidity and nutty based depth – all masterfully balanced with toffee and
vanilla hints that tell you oak has been involved here, but very subtly so. - Brian Elliott"
"Not as good as previous vintages IMHO. Will time fill in out a bit, cause its a bit too understated at the moment."
Mr Russell Sainty (01-Oct-2018)
"First, I really like this wine.
Second, don't buy it with impunity.
It's made by Kumeu River, who are a darling of the fine wine community for producing wines of the complexity of a Coche Dury Meursault at a fraction of the price. (Well, that's slightly dependent on what I'm told: I've never actually had the funds/ contacts to buy a Coche Dury Meursault.) This one hasn't got the pronounced flavours of their top bottlings, but is not far off it.
Frankly, it's a miracle of complexity in your mouth. Dense, and balanced, nutty more than fruity, savoury and textured.
It is not, though, easy.
Rather like a Henry James novel, this is something that reveals its delights almost with concentration. I think Henry James is brilliant, but I don't like reading Henry James all the time; I also like JK Rowling, John Le Carre and Alexandre Dumas.
So, do buy this wine. For the price, it delivers unfeasible complexity; it showcases the beauty of the chardonnay grape and how it can be integrated with oak: I wouldn't be surprised if it beat a bundle of top Burgundies at a blind tasting. But there are other, 'easier' chardonnays out there, that I would drink with just as much pleasure in different contexts. California, Chile and South Africa especially are all making fantastic chardonnay too.
And don't dream of drinking this without food: it needs it."
Rev Robert Stanier (21-Sep-2018)
"Delicious... a touch of alcohol on the nose but nothing to worry about, lots and lots of fruit without sharpness, mellow, slightly creamy mouthfeel and finish but still refreshing; well balanced. Acceptable to a variety of tastes."
Mr Tom Lavercombe (26-May-2018)
"Pale Lemon, with very understated aromas of lemon and warm spice. A touch of mineral also.
In the mouth, there's ripe fruit and some oatmeal. Texturally, the wine feels Big, but the acids help to keep it in check."
Mr Mathew Arthur (12-May-2018)
"The oak instantly noticeable on the nose with this great example of a NZ Chardonnay. Very smooth on the palate with lemon and apple making this wine seem almost juicy. The fruit and acidity were very well balanced and it had that slight stoney minerality to the long finish. I could absolutely taste the alcohol in the back of mouth but this wine was a total winner!"
Ms Leah Newman (01-May-2018)
Mr Piers Beckley (03-Jan-2018)
The Observer (16th Dec 2018)
anti-chardonnay backlash is surely over now. Its rightful place as one of the
great white grapes has been proved by any number of fine examples from across
the globe, among them this gorgeous, rich-but-luminous example from top Kiwi
Kumeu River. - David Williams"
Sunday Express (29th Jul 2018)
"Made by leading
producer Kumeu River, this chardonnay is tight, juicy, fine and a bit spicy. It
has pure citrus fruit with keen acidity and a stony mineral twist. - Jamie Goode"
decanter.com (6th Jun 2018)
"Always a popular buy
with Society members, and especially welcome after frost prevented the
production of a 2015 vintage. Full-bodied creamy and nutty palate with bold
flavours of apple pastries, gentle toasty oak and vivid citrus acidity. An
unashamedly New World style, but still elegant despite the dense, rich fruit.
Long and lingering. 91/100 Tina Gellie"
The Daily Telegraph (7th Apr 2018)
"Kumeu River on New
Zealand’s North Island is well-known for the excellence of its chardonnay and
is the producer behind this superb own-label. Think toasted cashews, vivid
lemon curd and sorbet. - Victoria Moore"
The Scotsman (19th Aug 2017)
example from a specific clone and vineyard selected exclusively for The Wine
Society: surprisingly pungent, zesty, leesy, subtle light oak with a long
finish. - Rose Murray Brown"
"Lovely apple and peach fruit with a subtle creaminess from the oak and a very long finish.Doubt this could be beaten for value."
Mr Jeff Garner (19-Nov-2016)
"A superb wine. Excellent fruit flavours, quite difficult to define but not citrus. Perhaps slightly peachy. Great structure with light woody backbone. Leaves a long, subtle and lovely aftertaste. A real treat."
Mr Geoffrey Cox (14-Oct-2016)
"It tastes too much like the overtly woody variety of Chardonnay that was imported en-masse from the New World in the nineties and noughties, and which most Chardonnays today have left behind.
Mr Dice McCairn (11-Aug-2016)
"A delicious wine full of complex lychee/peach flavours. Good length too. Not a cheap wine but worth a splurge if you want a treat."
Mr Rory Bremner (02-Apr-2016)
Wine-pages.com (29th Dec 2016)
"Made by the superb
Kumeu River, whose name on a label is more or less a guarantee of an
outstanding chardonnay. - Tom Cannavan"
thewinegang.com (2nd Aug 2016)
"It would be hard to
overstate the excellence of this great value Chardonnay from one of New
Zealand's greatest producers of the variety, because for £13.95 you get a dry
white with an invitingly fresh, citrusy aroma leading to a mouthful of crème
fraîche richness whose textured peachy fruit quality is neatly delineated by a
lemony dry finish. 90/100"
Decanter (4th Jul 2016)
Best In Category, Decanter World Wine Awards, New Zealand Chardonnay under
£15: Tight and focused with intense flavours of white nectarine and peach.
The palate has silky texture and good length. Deliciously pure with excellent
balance. One of those wines that just grows and grows on you. Lots to like.
The Mail on Sunday (19th Jun 2016)
Chardonnay, balanced with the racy persistence of Mo Farah. - Olly Smith"
The Daily Telegraph (4th Jun 2016)
persuaded Michael Brajkovich of Kumeu River to make this wine for them, and
he uses grapes grown in the vineyard next to Maté’s. It’s a crackingly good
wine, recognisably Kumeu with its lively scent of struck match and lemon
meringue pie taste. Makes me long for summer roast chicken or crab
- Victoria Moore
The Scotsman (21st May 2016)
buy: Kumeu River just north of Auckland in Huapai has had a long reputation
for its Chardonnay. Winemaker is New
Zealand’s first Master of Wine, Michael Brajkovich, who cleverly combines a
lovely richness, beautifully balanced oak with that characteristic Kiwi
zestiness and freshness. This is a
brilliant Chardonnay for the price. - Rose Murray Brown
Decanter (27th Apr 2016)
very classy chardonnay made by Kumeu River displays aromas of ripe peach,
lemon and green apple with a vanilla oak hint. Creamy, buttery palate backed
up by refreshing acidity and nicely balanced with a very long finish.
- Christelle Guibert
The Daily Mail (16th Apr 2016)
elite white comes from none other than New Zealand’s finest Chardonnay
producer, Kumeu River. It is
incredible that you can buy a wine of this calibre for only thirteen
quid. If you adore top flight,
elegant, dinner party quality white wine then hurry and order a case!
- Matthew Jukes
thewinegang.com (21st Mar 2016)
"This is just the sort
of fine Chardonnay we would expect from winemaker and Master of Wine Michael
Brajkovich of Kumeu River. It has a beeswax flavour and nutty depth reminiscent
of white Burgundy combined with gleaming lemon and sweet-apple intensity. You
can drink it now, but it will develop. 90/100"
The Independent (19th Mar 2016)
"Crème fraîchey …
impeccably sourced from Kumeu River. - Anthony Rose"
The Times (12th Mar 2016)
best Kumeu River vintage yet ... sweet, cinnamon and hazelnut-spiced …Jane MacQuitty"
JancisRobinson.com (28th May 2015)
"Fermented in old oak
from a specific vineyard and vine clone especially for them. It is a steal at
£13.50 a bottle and exhibits the trademark crystalline quality of all Kumeu
River Chardonnays. - Jancis Robinson "
Kent & Sussex Courier (12th Dec 2014)
"If you really want to
push the boat out on Christmas Day, try this sophisticated and complex Kiwi
white … A remarkable wine that tastes much more expensive than it is with
well-integrated new French oak balanced by stone fruits, hazelnuts, peaches,
aromas of ripe apples and toasted nut flavours. It's a personal favourite that
will be in my glass on the Christmas table with the turkey. - James Viner"
"If New Zealand Chardonnay is your thing, then this is a fine example of the art. At the price, it does not disappoint. However, for a few pence more per bottle, the Exhibition Tasmanian Chardonnay is substantially better, in my opinion. Still, don't take my word for it, buy a few bottles of each and make up your own mind. They are both excellent."
Mr Simon Thorne (25-Oct-2014)
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We do moderate comments and reviews, purely to ensure that content published on The Wine Society's website is of value to members, and is fair and balanced. We're delighted to say that in the vast, vast majority of cases, our members' input is just that! We will normally approve comments for publication as long as they:
If a review or comment does not meet the rules above, then we may remove it from the site, and we reserve the right to do so at any time. Where we choose not to publish a rating, comment or review for a reason other than those listed here, we will reply to the member concerned by e-mail explaining our reasons and inviting them to make appropriate changes so that their input can be reconsidered. We also reserve the right not to publish reviews that mention other wine merchants and competitors.
Your review and your name will be displayed on our website. We may wish to use your comments and ratings in our literature or elsewhere online. Unless you specify otherwise, you are therefore agreeing in posting your comments that The Society has the right to use, edit, publish in any media, delete and/or store the whole or any part or parts of that post, and may quote you by name, without charge and without reference to you or anyone else.
The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
We always include the abv (alcohol by volume) in our wines online, in our Lists and in our offers. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
It is generally accepted that over the last 20 years or so alcohol levels in wine have been increasing. There are many reasons why, including but not limited to the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most strip the flavour as well as the alcohol, and we don't buy wines made in this way.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Our tasting notes should be able to give you an idea of the style and fullness of an individual wine.
We are committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows you to make your own informed choices.
An additional figure used on some labels (including all our Society and Exhibition wines) is the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content (so a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units ).
For more information, please get in touch with us or visit drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork. As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years. Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
If the product page says:
...then our advice would be:
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Ready to drink now but will keep until the year shown.
We recommend keeping longer before opening. For example, a wine will be ready to drink in 2020 but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.