Paul traveled to the UK recently to release the 2017 Chardonnays, and this included a major vertical tasting at Farr Vintners.

In 2015 Farr put together a tasting of Kumeu River against fine white burgundy the results of which were a resounding success for Kumeu River. This time that tasting focused entirely on Chardonnay from Kumeu River with 48 wines from 2006 – 2017 including the Estate, Coddington, Hunting Hill and Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnays.

We have done some vertical tastings before over the years but this one was very comprehensive. Farr Vintners seemed the logical choice to hold such a tasting as they have been supporters of Kumeu River Chardonnay since the 1989 vintage and this tasting provided an interesting follow on from the 2015 event held at Farr.

 Below is the list of attendees many of whom were at the tasting in 2015.

Jancis Robinson ( / FT)

Neal Martin (Vinous)

Oz Clarke (wine writer and broadcaster)

Dan Keeling (editor Noble Rot Magazine, food and wine writer of the year 2017 and 2018)

Will Lyons (wine correspondent of the Sunday Times)

Tina Gellie (Decanter magazine)

Neal Beckett (editor World of Fine Wine magazine)

Steven Spurrier (wine writer, author, “judgement of Paris blind tasting”, subject of the film “Bottleshock”)

Derek Smedley (Master of Wine since 1968, consultant to City Institutions)

Stuart Pigott (representing James Suckling, also writes in several German publications)

Greg Sherwood (Master of Wine, wrote the recent article about Mate’s Vineyard’s success in a blind tasting)

Joss Fowler (

The wines were tasted in flights of 12 starting with the 12 vintages of Estate Chardonnay followed by Coddington, Hunting Hill and Mate’s Vineyard. Paul provided the tasters with a summary of each vintage and the taster’s worked through each flight of wines in reverent silence.

The result of this tasting was a clear winner for the quality and consistency of the wines from Kumeu River. The tasting ended with an ovation for the wines and the clear consensus that of the 48 wines presented there was not one poor bottle. This never happens in tastings of this nature.

Since the tasting a number of articles have begun to appear.

Jancis Robinson began her article on the tasting with: “Do we really need white burgundy?

Jancis went on to praise Kumeu River for the consistency and quality of the wines in the full article can be read at here  

 In a separate article about The World’s Great Chardonnays for The Financial Times Jancis had more praise for New Zealand Chardonnay and Kumeu River

“I have long argued that New Zealand makes even better Chardonnay than Sauvignon Blanc…. Kumeu River somehow manages to make some of not just New Zealand’s but the world’s finest Chardonnay from vineyards in the Auckland suburbs. Three years ago I participated in a professional blind tasting which Kumeu Chardonnays comprehensively knocked spots off some of the finest white burgundies.

The full article can be read here

Joss Fowler was full of praise for the tasting in his blog. After a very flattering comparison with Coche –Dury he wrote “these are quite brilliant wines.  And they offer outstanding value for money.  If they were from Burgundy they’d be double the price, and if they were from a fashionable domaine in Burgundy then they’d be four times the price.”

This can be found on Joss's Blog Vinolent:  

Greg Sherwood MW, who was at the blind tasting at La Trompoette where the 2014 Mate’s Vineyard showed so well, was also impressed…

“In this tasting, the Kumeu River Maté’s Vineyard 2014 performed astonishingly well, further solidifying the widely held belief that this New Zealand winery makes wines every bit as good as the best white Grand Cru Burgundy houses.”

Altogether this was an excellent tasting and very pleasing to see the 2017 wines looking so good among all the vintages. Thank you to Farr Vintners for providing the venue, glassware and seamlessly presenting each flight to the attendees.