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2020 Kumeu River

Farr Vintners have championed the brilliant Chardonnays made at Kumeu River since we started importing the wines in 1989. These wines from New Zealand regularly beat Premier and even Grand Cru  white Burgundies that sell at many times the price in professional blind tastings. Jancis Robinson MW, Neal Martin, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, James Suckling and many other critics have given huge scores to the wines over the years.
 
2019 was a great vintage at Kumeu River, and one we thought would be hard to follow. It was therefore a great surprise when winemaker Michael Brajkovich MW - an ever-modest man - told us not only that he prefers 2020, but that it is the best vintage they have ever made. We were excited to taste the wines and can confirm they are absolutely brilliant - more structured than the 2019s, with superb energy and drive. The single vineyard bottlings show their site typicity more transparently than ever. 
 
We have once again bought all we can, and we are delighted to offer the wines for sale for the first time. They are currently en-route to us and will be available for delivery in September. The ever-popular halves have now sold out, as have our magnums. All the single vineyard stocks are low and limited.
 
Our Master of Wine Thomas Parker has written tasting notes which you can read along with Jancis Robinson's notes and scores below. Nick Stock, writing for JamesSuckling.com, has given the 2020 Mate's Vineyard 100 points - a first for Kumeu River! We expect big scores from more critics to follow soon. You can also read his blog on the 2020s to get a full breakdown of the vintage. 

 

UK Sales Only

Minimum order - 1 case

These wines will be available for delivery in mid-September.

2020 Chardonnay Estate, Kumeu River

Colour Region Vintage Wine Size Qty Units Price IB GBP Per Score
New Zealand2020Chardonnay Estate, Kumeu RiverBT50 \ 4 604155.001294 FV60417.22222133333394.0094.00Chardonnay Estate, Kumeu River0.7530
New Zealand2020Chardonnay Estate, Kumeu RiverMG1 \ 06180.00694 FV62094.0094.00Chardonnay Estate, Kumeu River1.530
New Zealand2020Chardonnay Estate, Kumeu RiverDM2280.00bt94 FV226.66666666666794.0094.00Chardonnay Estate, Kumeu River330
Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.

Kumeu River's Estate Chardonnay must be one of the best value white wines in the world. In a great vintage like 2020 (and 2019) - the high quality of fruit elevates this bottling even closer to the single vineyard wines. Drawn from six vineyard sites around the Kumeu region, it is hand harvested and whole-bunch pressed ahead of spontaneous fermentation and maturation in barrel, of which 20% are new. Michael believes this to be as good as his brilliant 2019 "but with the volume turned up a little bit". Production was down about 25%. Bright, pale lemon in colour. The nose is quintessential Kumeu - bright lemon fruit with a little ripe peach and the classic, seductive reduction of struck flint, layered with a hint of spice from the oak. The palate is thick, richly structured with taut acidity braced against fleshy peaches and pears. There is a crystalline, saline impression here, adding a moreish, savoury complexity. Long and expansive to the finish, this is another excellent Estate Chardonnay.

94 points, Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners

 Intense and complex chardonnay with lemons and peaches, as well as pastry and fresh cream. The palate is stacked with ripe-peach flavor and fresher, citrus tones and has complex, layered texture. Classy wine. Drink now. Screw cap.

95 points, Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com

Spontaneous fermentation of hand-picked grapes, whole-bunch pressed.
Lightly but not excessively reductive on the nose. Already quite expansive on the nose with beautiful impact on the palate: citrus, blossom and really neat acidity without much astringency. Elegant and racy – almost lightweight on the mid palate and then it is impressively persistent. A thorough delight already. VGV 13.5%
Drink 2021 – 2025

17 points, Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com

There's a sense of calm to the 2020 Chardonnay Estate, a blend of six different sites. It is mellow, offering a plump cushion of Chardonnay goodness on the midpalate but not becoming heavy nor opulent, its youthful edge and fresh acidity tying it together into a precise finish. It offers classic subtle Chardonnay characters of Golden Delicious apple, white nectarine and a mere whiff of oak-derived smokiness. Well constructed, satisfying and elegant. Drink 2021 - 2027.

91 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous.com

2020 Chardonnay Rays Road, Kumeu River

Colour Region Vintage Wine Size Qty Units Price IB GBP Per Score
New Zealand2020Chardonnay Rays Road, Kumeu RiverBT25 \ 9 309175.001293 FV30919.44444493.0093.00Chardonnay Rays Road, Kumeu River0.7530
Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.

Kumeu River purchased this Hawkes Bay site in 2017 (which had been planted in 2008 by Trinity Hill) and and are continually learning from the different terroir here. The limestone hillside sits at 180m altitude and is dry farmed (i.e. without irrigation). As with all Kumeu's top wines the fruit is hand harvested and whole bunch pressed before fermentation and maturation in barrel at Kumeu - with only a touch of new oak. New clonal plantings are in the blend for the first time in 2020, adding a component that makes this easily the best Rays Road we have tasted to date. Bright, pale yellow colour in the glass. This has a fresh, cool vibrancy on the nose but this year there is a little more richness and ripeness of fruit, bringing a lightly peachy character against a fresh citrus core. The palate follows, with real salinity and a cool note of green fruit before creamy pears and a hint of something riper come through. Silky and fine, this is long and subtle, all about the chalky, textural depth it possesses.

93 points, Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners

This is a fuller style from Hawke’s Bay and quite different from the rest of the Kumeu range of chardonnays. Bold, ripe peaches dominate the nose and palate. The texture is impressively silky and smooth. Very fleshy and complete. Impressive. Drink or hold. Screw cap.

95 points, Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com

From a limestone, north-facing, dry-farmed hillside at 180 m. Spontaneous fermentation. Aged in old French oak.
Neat and well integrated, quite restrained. And already very accessible though with light, fine tannins and quite opulent fruit on the front palate. Sprightly. Lemon-pastille flavour. Very long. Beautifully made. 13.5%
Drink 2021 – 2027

17 points, Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com

 

2020 Chardonnay Coddington, Kumeu River

Colour Region Vintage Wine Size Qty Units Price IB GBP Per Score
New Zealand2020Coddington Chardonnay, Kumeu RiverBT2 \ 933250.001295+ FV3327.77777733333395.1095.10Chardonnay Coddington, Kumeu River0.7530
Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.

The Coddington vineyard has invariably produced the most luscious, rich wines in Kumeu River's range since the decision to bottle it separately in 2006. Hand harvested and whole-bunch pressed, the wine is fermented and matured in barrel, all of which are well toasted from Claude Gillet in St Romain. 30% new oak in 2020. This year Michael said that about 1% of the grapes had some botrytis - giving an extra touch of apricot on the nose and palate. Only 700 dozen produced of what we feel is the best Coddington that we have ever tasted. Bright lemon colour. Luscious peach and apricot fruit on this powerful, expansive nose. This is ripe and instense yet perfectly balanced, finding a layers of gun smoke and sweet spices. The palate is fleshy and full, rich in apricot, cream and a hint of marmalade but the tang of juicy acidity brings ample freshness throughout. Smoky fruits continue to burst through in waves but the structure makes the wine approachable despite its richness. An outstanding Coddington.

95+ points, Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners

This is a wine of real purity and elegance with fresh sliced peaches and lemons, as well as some light pastry notes. The palate is fine, unwaveringly long and pure with enlivening acidity through the finish. Stunning. Drink or hold. Screw cap.

97 points, Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com

From the Coddington vineyard.
Pale greenish straw colour. Broad, rather floral nose with some light chewiness on the end. Not quite ready yet. Hint of lemon peel on the finish. Not the most intense Kumeu Chardonnay but very 'pleasant' for now! It will surely bloom in bottle. 13.5%
Drink 2022 – 2028

16.5+ points, Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com

Another typically weighty expression from Kumeu's Coddington vineyard, the 2020 Chardonnay Coddington fills the midpalate with its density and breadth. It is a wine of clarity, the oak-derived smoky, nutty notes providing a savory layer over nectarine and lemon meringue. However, this is not a wine that needs multiple flavor descriptors; it's a wine of texture. Expect the smooth, mellow mouthfeel to be followed up with lovely precision and sinew on the lengthy, smoky finish. Drink 2023-2031.

93 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous.com

2020 Chardonnay Hunting Hill, Kumeu River

Colour Region Vintage Wine Size Qty Units Price IB GBP Per Score
New Zealand2020Hunting Hill Chardonnay, Kumeu RiverHV 1 \ 1236360.002497 FV364097.0097.00Chardonnay Hunting Hill, Kumeu River0.37530
New Zealand2020Hunting Hill Chardonnay, Kumeu RiverBT2 \ 630340.001297 FV3037.77777733333397.0097.00Chardonnay Hunting Hill, Kumeu River0.7530
New Zealand2020Hunting Hill Chardonnay, Kumeu RiverDM11150.00bt97 FV15097.0097.00Chardonnay Hunting Hill, Kumeu River330
Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.

The Hunting Hill site sits on the slope that overlooks Mate's Vineyard, and always produces Kumeu's most tightly-wound wines. The vineyard was replanted in 2000 to elevate quality, and at 20 years old in 2020 the vines are producing the best fruit the site has ever seen. This has been bottled as a single vineyard cuvée since 2006. The Brajkovich family are not ones to overstate a vintage, but in 2020 they believe they have even surpassed the magnificent 2019. Hand harvested and whole-bunch pressed, a spontaneous fermentation and maturation take place all in tight-grained Francois Frères barrels, of which 25% are new. Pale lemon-green in colour. Steely and tight on the nose initially, this reveals itself beautifully with air as it always does. Preserved lemon, peach skins and just a hint of lime come through. The palate is chalky and grippy with phenolics, built with superb structure for the long term. Against this is intense, cool fruit. Crystalline citrus and riper stone fruit come through together, building in intensity through the mid palate. The struck flint note is persistent throughout but always in balance with the fruit. Cutting acidity lingers on the finish in tandem with the fruit. Long and expansive, this should get ever better after a few years of bottle age.

97 points, Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners

A complex chardonnay with yellow citrus, as well as lemon-curd and creamy tones. Light hazelnut, too. The palate has such all-encompassing, fresh peachy flavors and builds impressively through the long, full finish. Drink or hold. Screw cap.

96 points, Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com

Really nervy nose. Truly burgundian, if one is allowed to say this. Great fruit and great tension. Just the job and amazingly vibrant and persistent on the finish. You could drink this already but it will clearly last really well – though winemaker Michael Brajkovich is consistently cautious with his suggested drinking windows; 'will improve with bottle age for four to six years'. A hint of Puligny here. 14%
Drink 2021 – 2028

17+ points, Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com

Possibly the most complete Hunting Hill Chardonnay I've tasted in youth, the 2020 provides a harmonious, melt-in-your-mouth impression. It has breadth and concentration but retains a sense of elegance on the midpalate before finishing with precision and length. Yes, there's a little bit of flint character too, but then Hunting Hill is known to be reductive; give it time. Like Forrest Gump, it runs through a finish line and keeps on going effortlessly. There's no box of chocolates here, though; it's all white nectarine, citrus, white flowers and a touch of smoked nuts. Drink 2023-2035

95 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous.com

2020 Chardonnay Maté's Vineyard, Kumeu River

Colour Region Vintage Wine Size Qty Units Price IB GBP Per Score
New Zealand2020Maté's Vineyard Chardonnay, Kumeu RiverHV1 \ 024450.0024100 NS2450100.00100.00Chardonnay Mate's Vineyard, Kumeu River0.37530
New Zealand2020Maté's Vineyard Chardonnay, Kumeu River

UK Sales Only. 1 doz maximum per customer, must be bought with Estate Chardonnay.

6 bottle minimum order

BT1 \ 012420.0012100 NS1246.666666666667100.00100.00Chardonnay Mate's Vineyard, Kumeu River0.7530
Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.

The vines for Mate's Vineyard turned 30 years old for the 2020 vintage here. The Brajkovich family believe this is the highest quality fruit they have ever harvested from this site, the Mendoza clone bringing the perfect blend of smaller, thicker-skinned berries and larger, fresher ones. The fruit is hand harvested and whole bunch pressed before spontaneous fermentation and maturation in Seguin Moreau and Mercurey barrels - of which 30% are new. 1300 cases produced. Bright lemon colour in the glass. Rich and expansive on the nose, bringing the best of Hunting Hill and Coddington together - there is tension and struck match but also rich, heady apricot fruit. The palate is dense and concentrated, oily with peaches, apricot and lemon oil. The volume is held together by a pithy grip and bright, zesty acidity. Complexity comes in waves from spice, succulent fruit and savoury, mineral tones. A structured and harmonious wine, it is an incredibly impressive iteration of Mate's Vineyard.

96+ points, Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners

This is such impressive chardonnay in terms of power and complexity, delivering so much with such poise. Aromas of lemons and peaches intersect with lightly spicy oak and brioche on the nose. The palate drops mouth-filling flavors of peach and lemon and winds tight, before exploding long on the finish with a long, nutty afterglow. Perfect chardonnay. Drink over the next decade or more. Screw cap.

100 points, Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com

Even for this wine, for which Michael Brajkovich predicts 'long-term bottle maturation', only four to six years are recommended! Note how much less potent it is than Hunting Hill.
Pale gold. Quite an opulent nose. I must say the nose made me think involuntarily of some Corton-Charlemagnes. Really precise and mealy with perfect balance. You could already enjoy it but it will surely become even more complex in bottle. Long and satisfying, a wine designed to soothe sore throats. Quite a triumph; easy to see why it's the most expensive in this range. 13%
Drink 2021 – 2028

17.5 points, Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com

The Chardonnay Mate's Vineyard, appears to have gone on a yoga retreat in 2020: not only is its usual powerful self, but it's remarkably zen too, exuding a sense of calmness. It is full-bodied, round and offers fruit ripeness, but the propensity of the Mendoza clone to hen-and-chicks means that it retains a sense of nerve, with powerful citrusy acidity providing the needle that pulls a tight thread through this wine's core. The 2020 is still far too young, and it is aromatically shy, but even in its full mature glory, it won't exhibit aromatic fireworks – nor should it. This is Chardonnay. Okay, you might detect lemon and limes, white flowers and just-ripe white nectarine, with 30% new oak imbuing an additional layer of savoriness, but when it comes down to it, this wine's trump card is in its shape, texture and persistence. Drink 2023 - 2035.

97 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous.com

Kumeu Cremant

Colour Region Vintage Wine Size Qty Units Price IB GBP Per Score
New ZealandN.V.Kumeu Cremant (Harvest 2015, bottled 2016, disgorged 2019), Kumeu RiverBT 1 \ 1022195.001292+ FV2221.66666666666792.1092.10Kumeu Cremant (Harvest 2015, bottled 2016, disgorged 2019), Kumeu River0.7530
Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.

The new vintage of Kumeu River's Cremant comes from the 2015 vintage, bottled in 2016 for secondary fermentation and ageing, it was disgorged in 2019 before further bottle ageing ahead of shipping. The blend is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir that is picked early for low alcohol and high acidity essential for great traditional method sparkling wine. The final bottling is under a special sparkling wine DIAM for consistency of ageing and avoidance of cork taint. Bright pale lemon in the glass. The nose is smoky with struck flint and sweet with amalfi lemon. Light brioche notes and white peach come through on the palate, structured with a vibrant mousse and fine bead of acidity throughout. There is a real preservation of fruit vibrancy but a bready depth of lees ageing coming through. The texture is chalky and dry, leaving a savoury, moreish finish. The refinement and quality in this wine improves with every vintage and this is no exception.

92+ points, Farr Vintners

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