The family who began this winery and still run it today are Croatian. Mick Brajkovich, together with his wife Katé and son Maté, emigrated from Croatia in 1938. Once they had saved up enough money, they bought a parcel of land in the Auckland area and began farming. They grew grapes and made wine for family consumption, as was common back home in Dalmatia. Very quickly the quality of their wines was recognized by the Auckland elite and they found that they had a growing wine business. As the family business grew, so did the family.
The current generation’s winemaker, Michael Brajkovich, is the eldest son of Maté and has taken the business very seriously. He was the first winemaker in New Zealand to become a certified Master of Wine, and since the 1980s has focused the direction of the winery on Burgundian varietals. Kumeu River is known for its Chardonnay production. The 2016 Kumeu River “Kumeu Village” Chardonnay is one of the best examples of serious New Zealand Chardonnay on the market. While showcasing plenty of ripe, tropical fruit notes, and a creamy texture from the malolactic fermentation that it undergoes, it still maintains a crisp acidity and stays light on its feet. Michael primarily ages this wine in stainless steel, with 25% used French barriques to add texture and a subtle sweet oak spice. A combination of traditional Burgundian techniques married to vibrant, ripe, yet balanced New Zealand fruit.
Country: New Zealand
Rating: 90 Points by James Suckling
Tasting Note: The wine was fermented 25% in old French oak barriques, and 75% in stainless steel tanks, so there is very little oak influence on either nose or palate. This has allowed the vibrant fruit to show through beautifully with lively lime and lemon aromas and a flinty, mineral edginess with hints of fig and white peach.
The 2016 Village Chardonnay has a weighty mid-palate also shows peachy ripeness along with crisp acid minerality that gives the wine a refreshing cleansing quality. This wine is delightful as an aperitif, and even better to drink with fish and shellfish.