From: Kumeu, Auckland & Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Taste: This gorgeous white wine is the perfect aperitif Chardonnay. Paired excellently with various seafood, its fermentation in 40% old French oak barriques and 60% stainless steel tanks minimizes oak influence, allowing the vibrant fruit flavors to shine. Featuring lively lime and lemon scents, a flinty mineral touch, and nuances of fig and white peach, this vintage benefits from Hawkes Bay fruit comprising 55% of the blend.
Contribution from their Rays Road vineyard adds an additional limestone note. A weighty mid-palate displays peachy richness, complemented by a crisp acidity for a refreshing finish. The aroma carries hints of yellow stonefruit and toasted oak, while the palate is graced with flavors of nectarine, fresh hazelnuts, nougat, dried honey, and layers of rich texture. It's undeniably delightful!
Pairing: The 2022 Kumeu Village Chardonnay from Kumeu & Hawkes Bay, New Zealand is delightful on its own or when complemented with a range of dishes. Ideal pairings include:
Fish, shellfish, and other seafood
White meats such as chicken, turkey, and pork
A variety of cheeses including Brie, Camembert, goat cheese, Gouda, Gruyere, Parmesan, and Provolone
Roasted sheet pan chicken thighs with vegetables (check out the skillet chicken recipe below!)
Skillet Chicken With White Beans and Caramelized Lemon
By Alison Roman
About. Founded in 1944 by Mick Brajkovich, wife Katé and son Maté, Kumeu River was one of the early pioneers in Auckland, New Zealand, that helped to establish its reputation as a world-class wine region. Still family owned and run, Kumeu River continues to pioneer new frontiers: winemaker Michael Brajkovich became New Zealand’s first member of the prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine, London, and has been testing and championing screw cap closures for close to 20 years.
History: Emigrants from Dalmatia.
The story of Kumeu River Wines unfolds more than a half-century ago when the first generation of the Brajkovich family arrived in New Zealand. In 1938, Maté Brajkovich emigrated with his mother, Katé, and two sisters, Frances and Nevenka, from Dalmatia in southwestern Croatia to New Zealand. His father, Mick, had already been there for a year, working in the northern Kauri gum fields. After three years of public education during which time he learned English, Maté left school and joined his father digging Kauri gum. Two years later, the family moved to a dairy farm, then to Henderson in West Auckland where they worked in the orchards and vineyards. By 1944, they had saved enough money to purchase land in Kumeu.
Becoming Winemakers. Although there was a small vineyard already in production on their new property, the main activity was mixed farming; so for the first few years, Mick, Katé and Maté grew fruits and vegetables and raised dairy cows. In Dalmatia, many families made wine for their own use from their own vines; it seemed only natural to do the same in New Zealand. The land was so well-suited for wine grapes that wine production in Kumeu far exceeded home consumption, and the Brajkovichs started making wine commercially. Although Mick died in 1949, Maté and Katé continued to run the family business which became known as San Marino Vineyards. They produced dry red table wine in the style that was preferred for everyday drinking back in Europe, which soon gained popularity among the literary and university circles of Auckland.
A Family Legacy Begins. In 1957, Maté met his wife, Melba Sutich, whose grandparents had also immigrated to New Zealand from Croatia. Maté and Melba were married in 1958, and as the vineyard and winery expanded, so did the family. Michael was born in 1960, followed by Marijana in 1961, Milan in 1963 and Paul in 1967. For the children, being brought up around the winery established a strong foundation of industry knowledge and skill that would take the winery to a new level of success in years to come.
Kumeu River: A New Name, A New Era. 1979 was a watershed year for Kumeu River, when the Brajkovichs moved away from hybrid varieties used for the production of fortified and basic red and white wines to the now-common — but then-unusual — varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Merlot. As Michael, Milan and Paul became more involved in the family business in the 1980s, the Brajkovichs continued to focus on quality and reputation; the winery changed its name to Kumeu River Wines in 1986 and began making a Burgundy-influenced style of Chardonnay that featured indigenous yeasts, extended lees aging and malolactic fermentation. The result has been a series of wines that are innovative, distinctive and unique in both style and quality for New Zealand. Today, Kumeu River produces 250,000 bottles annually from 30 hectares (74 acres) of estate vineyards in Kumeu, and another 10 hectares (24.7 acres) from local growers.
County Composition: Kumeu, Auckland & Hawkes Bay
Size: 14 hectares
Vine Age: Vines planted between 1989-2016
100% hand harvested 100% whole-bunch pressed Indigenous-yeast fermentation 100% malolactic fermentation 67% stainless steel tank fermentation 33% barrel fermentation (5 year old + French oak barriques)
Varietal Composition: 100% Chardonnay
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