Kumeu River Mate’s Chardonnay 2006 (Kumeu, NZ)
$60ish, Screwcap, 13.5%
Auckland via Montrachet…
What a confounding, brilliant wine this, even despite some slightly dodgy cellaring on my behalf.
A wine driven by ripe fruit, tightened by acidity (actually, how does Michael Brajkovich retain acidity in this wine, even though the alcohol is high and the Kumeu climate is warm and humid?) and enriched by textural weight. Three elements – ripe fruit, acidity and texture, all in perfect harmony. Actually, it is the texture that brings me back every time – derived from fruit, from wild ferments, from careful solids use and a full malolactic ferment. Montrachet-esque fullness, with an extra whiff of peach to remind you that this is from Kumeu, not the Cote de Beaune.
I don’t know the secret here, as the recipe seems no different to so many other Australian and Kiwi Chardonnays. Even when you walk around Mate’s vineyard, it doesn’t feel wildly special. Kumeu itself is just farmland north of Auckland. No magical limestone. No free draining gravel. Just fertile soils and enough rain that these vines can be dry grown.
I can’t explain why this wine is so very good. But I loved every minute of it, even though it wasn’t a perfect bottle. I always love this wine actually, and the 06 is one of the best yet. Get some.
Score: 18.8/20, 95/100
Would I buy it? I have multiple vintages in the cellar. Stoked.