At last night’s New Zealand Wine Chardonnay Masterclass, hosted by NZ Wine Online at the Macleay St Bistro, Kumeu 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!
A vertical of the Coddington Vineyard Chardonnay was the third flight showcased … Read the rest