About this WINE
Maté Brajkovich, a Dalmation by birth, arrived in New Zealand in 1938. In 1944 he and his parents purchased a property with a small vineyard and Kumeu River wines was born. However it was not until Michael, Mate's son, took over in 1982 that the true potential of the vineyards began to be fully realised.
Michael, the first New Zealander to become a Master of Wine, vastly improved the quality of the fruit though improved drainage systems, the growing of grass between the vine rows and by the introduction of the Lyre trellis system. Its two Chardonnays, the Kumeu River Chardonnay and the Matés Vineyard Chardonnay, are arguably the best in New Zealand and have been consecutively named in the Top one hundred Wines of the world by the Wine Spectator.
At the head of North Island, the Auckland region brims with a disproportionate amount of wineries (17 percent of New Zealand's total), even though it is planted with just two percent of the country's vines.
Despite being on the doorstep of an affluent Auckland, the fairly humid, near-tropical climate and fertile soils makes fine wine little more than a pipe dream – the notable exception being Kumeu River Wines, where the tireless work of the Brajkovich family in taming the vines while honing their winemaking has resulted in the country's finest Chardonnays.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.