Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2006 (Kumeu, Chardonnay)
$50, Screwcap, 14%
Because I am both lazy and the text itself says everything appropriate, I'm going to start with an excerpt from a (2 year old) press release.
'In 1993 we introduced the idea of single vineyard Chardonnay expression with Mate’s Vineyard and in 2006 we have taken this a step further by identifying the Coddington and Hunting Hill vineyards as sites that deserve single vineyard status. These outstanding vineyards have for many years shown fantastic personality and individualism of character, and have contributed this to the Kumeu River Estate blend. They now have the opportunity to show this off all by themselves as well.'
What this means is that Kumeu River, already the producer of (in my view) NZ's finest Chardonnays, now have a full brace of three single vineyard wines to prove it.
So to work out whether this is a good move, or whether it may actually detract from the absolute quality of the Estate Chardonnay, we start here, with the first release from the Hunting Hill vineyard.
Bright straw yellow in colour, this looks typically youthful and pure, with a nose that gives away very little. It smells of spicy vanillan French oak, with a white peach and grapefruit character appearing as the wine warms up. It's a neutral, oaky and entirely backward nose, signalling the renowned Kumeu River cellaring intent.
On the palate, this comes across as less creamy and textural than the Mendoza clone Mate's vineyard wine, even though it is sourced from what is an adjoining vineyard & produced in an identical fashion. Much like the nose, it's still an entirely backward wine, with extra time required before it will be able to fully reveal itself from underneath the dominant vanilla oak.
What it lacks however is that extra acid and length of the older vine (6yrs old for the Hunting Hill versus 18 for Mate's) produced flagship, with the 14% alcohol jutting out into the finish. This leaves the palate to taste of vanilla oak, acid and alcohol and (at this stage) little else.
The end result is a wine that will no doubt provide great enjoyment in the future, but at the moment, I'd call it a disappointment, or at least in a very dumb stage. Important plus signs though.
Keen to try both the 07 vintage, to see whether it might be a stage, or at least retry the 06 Estate to see whether it is missing some oak and acid. 17/90++
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