2005 Kumeu River Chardonnay Kumeu, New Zealand
Chardonnay can grow in almost any wine region, but great chardonnay is a little tougher to find. In the remote isles of New Zealand, in the land of sauvignon blanc, Kumeu River Winery grows outstanding chardonnay, and makes the resulting wine in a Burgundian style, but with new world fruit. The 2005 Kumeu River Chardonnay is particularly lovely, with a light, silky touch of oak, crisp melon, pink grapefruit, and lemon flavors, and a mineral and flint finish that is both long and clean. With its minerality, flinty taste and body, this white wine will even age well, improving through 2010. And its Stelvin closure (a great euphemism for screw-top) means no corked, or musty wines. Around $27 in the store, this wine comes alive with food. Drink this chardonnay with grilled shrimp, steamed clams, baked brie, roasted chicken, or light mushroom risotto. The acidity also makes it a great pair with goat cheese, aged parmesan and gouda.Mick and Kate Brajkovich emigrated from Yugoslavia in 1938. They established their winery in 1944 just north of Auckland on the north island of New Zealand. Their son, Mate, took over operations with his wife Melba, who still runs the winery to this day. In 1990, Mate replanted the best parcel of the vineyards, but died two years later before the first grapes were harvested from the land. In his memory, Melba and the sons, winemaker Michael, vineyard manager Milan, and marketing head Paul, named the vineyard after Mate. Winemaker Michael Brajkovich ferments the juice for this wine in 100 percent French oak barrels, most of it older (only 20 percent new oak barrels.) This adds a light touch of smooth oak, but also extra richness. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, where the lush and creamy melon flavors come forth. Finally, the wine is aged for 11 months in their barrels, again to add body and richness. Michael has been the winemaker since 1981.
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