Category Archives: New Zealand Chardonnay

Feb 02 2015

Should we look to New Zealand for the World’s Best Chardonnays?

Posted on February 02, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I’m sure the team at New Zealand’s Martinborough Vineyards were thrilled when their Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 was recently named “Top wine of the Tasting” in Decanter’s Magazine’s blind tasting of “The best Chardonnays in the world (outside Burgundy).” It topped a very competitive field  – 80 of the finest chardonnays from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. The Best Chardonnays in the world (outside Burgundy) by Stephen Brook, Decanter Magazine, March 2015

New Zealand has a long established reputation for world class pinot noir, but chardonnay is starting to steal the limelight.

Interestingly, some of the best chardonnay in New Zealand can be found off the beaten track, so to speak. The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown recently raved about the Brajkovich family’s Kumeu River chardonnays, remarking that they “continue to be amongst a handful of the very best, world-class Chardonnays coming out of New Zealand, demonstrating great finesse and terroir expression as well as ageing potential.” (New Zealand: The Others by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, 30 December 2014)

One of New Zealand’s oldest wineries, Kumeu River is situated north of Auckland, about as far away as you can get from the two big wine making wine regions of Marlborough and Central Otago on the South Island.

Waikari or North Canterbury (as it’s formally known) on the South Island is New Zealand’s newest and most remote wine region. It is another area with a unique terroir that is proving ideal for growing chardonnay.

Waikari’s Bell Hill Chardonnay 2011, for example, was one of 10 wines voted “Outstanding” by the Decanter Magazine’s blind tasting panel. Perotti-Brown believes that for “anyone looking to try the very best that New Zealand has to offer – wines that sit shoulder to shoulder with some of the best examples … Read the rest

Sep 09 2012

Kumeu River: Masterclass on New Zealand’s finest Chardonnay

Posted on September 09, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

At last night’s New Zealand Wine Chardonnay Masterclass, hosted by NZ Wine Online at the Macleay St BistroKumeu River’s winemaker Michael Brajkovich began by acknowledging the contribution  of his mother, managing director Melba Brajkovich, to the business. At 75 Melba is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable women in New Zealand’s wine industry, still overseeing the management of a winery that was first founded by her late husband’s Croatian immigrant family in 1944.

Melba and her late husband Maté have also done an excellent job in nurturing the next generation to take over the business. Today their four children, Michael, Milan, Paul and Marijana, all work for Kumeu River in different capacities. Since the mid 1980s the siblings have focused on the winery’s strength –  high quality Burgundian style chardonnays.

Unless you’re new to New Zealand chardonnay, you could not help but be aware of Kumeu River’s reverered status as the leading producer of this variety. Sauvignon blanc and pinot noir may have led the way in establishing New Zealand’s reputation as one the New World’s leading wine producers, but the Kumeu River chardonnays have demonstrated that New Zealand can also create world-class chardonnays. And certainly at trade and press tastings Michael is not shy about comparing his wines to smart White Burgundies from illustrious producers like Domain Leflaive. Last night the elegant and complex Kumeu River 2009 Maté Vineyard Chardonnay did not disappoint when compared with the superbly balanced, richly textured 2009 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘La Maltroie’ Burgundy, which at $140 a bottle, is twice the price of the Maté!

The Maté Chardonnay is one of Kumeu Rivers three single vineyard bottlings, which also include the Coddington and Hunting Hill.

A vertical of the Coddington Vineyard Chardonnay was the third flight showcased … Read the rest

Aug 08 2012

Cool Climate Chardonnay: 3 Great Examples from Australia and New Zealand

Posted on August 08, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you’re still in the ‘anything but chardonnay’ camp, a look at a few very fine examples of the new style of cool climate chardonnay from Australia and New Zealand are likely to change your mind!

As winemaker Andrew Pirie reminded the audience at the Tasmania Unbottled masterclass, chardonnay, the white  wine variety of Burgundy, is actually a cool-climate grape that can be very expressive of its terroir when sensitively handled in the vineyard and winery.

A recent tasting, organised by Single Vineyard Sellers and held at the White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney, provided ample evidence that chardonnay can create wines that are balanced, refreshing, complex and elegant.  At a chardonnay  masterclass, winemakers Paddy Borthwick of Paddy Borthwick Winery in Wairarapa, New Zealand, James Kellie of Harewood Estate in the Great Southern and Becca Duffy of Holm Oak in Tamar Ridge guided us through a comparative tasting of their most recent releases.

What was abundantly clear from their comments was that getting the best out of chardonnay from a cool climate is hard work, requiring deft handling both in the vineyard and the winery!

The Borthwick vineyard is located in Wairarapa,  just north of Martinborough at the southern end of the North Island. The chardonnay vines, a mix of four different clones, are around 15 years old. Here the rainfall is low and the free-draining, stony alluvial soils encourage the vines to dig deep for sufficient nutrients and water. Borthwick explained that a flock of sheep are let loose in the vineyard to pluck off the vine leaves so the grape clusters receive more sun exposure – a practice that in this cool, fairly dry climate encourages more flavour concentration in the grapes.

The Paddy Borthwick Chardonnay 2010 is a beautifully structured wine with complex aromas of nectarine and … Read the rest