2016 VINTAGE REPORT
The 2016 harvest began with a very promising flowering and the vineyards had a healthy crop level. The early part of the summer was terrific and we were looking forward to an excellent harvest.
- Michael Brajkovich, MW
The 2016 harvest began with a very promising flowering and the vineyards had a healthy crop level. The early part of the summer was terrific and we were looking forward to an excellent harvest. Some rain and warm weather in late February dampened things a little and when harvest began in early March we had to be very selective about what we picked - similar to 2011 and 2012. Hand harvesting in a year like this is crucial and our crew have done a great job in sorting through the fruit to deliver clean, ripe grapes to the winery.
The Single Vineyards - Mate's Vineyard, Hunting Hill and Coddington really do show their class in a vintage like this and the resulting are brilliant.
The Estate Chardonnay quantity is a little down this year with us being selective and able to put a bit more fruit toward the Village Chardonnay.
Tasting these wine before bottling and after bottling we see a supple texture and richness to all the wines that we expect to see in Kumeu River Chardonnays. It is clear that this is a better vintage than we initially thought and we are very pleased with the results.
Many of New Zealand’s largest wine companies — including Pernod Ricard NZ, Nobilo, Delegat’s, Villa Maria, Matua Valley, Babich and Coopers Creek — have their headquarters in Auckland, processing grapes grown all over the country. A unique feature of the Auckland wine trail is the opportunity to taste wines from several regions, especially Auckland, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough.
With Auckland’s high rainfall and humidity throughout the growing season, disease control is the major challenge for the region’s grape-growers. Its warm temperatures assist the ripening of late-season grape varieties, but Auckland is also a cloudy region, with sub-optimal sunshine hours for viticulture (especially in the west).
The rainfall, highest in the Waitakere Ranges, is significantly lower in eastern districts. Frosts are infrequent and generally light.
Leigh, on the east coast, has a mean daily temperature range of 6°C, compared to 10°C inland at Henderson, showing that Auckland, although sprawled across a narrow isthmus, does experience some continental temperature effects.
Auckland’s bedrock is up to 250 million years old. Many of the young volcanic soils on the narrow isthmus between the Waitemata and Manukau harbours have been formed by volcanic activity over the last 150,000 years. However, layered sandstone and mudstone are the most common rocks in the region, uplifted from the ocean floor many thousands of years ago and since weathered to clay-rich soils. Most Auckland vineyards are planted on heavy clays, often with poor natural drainage.
Auckland’s relatively warm temperatures favour Bordeaux-style reds, increasingly based on Merlot rather than Cabernet Sauvignon, which in the heavy clay soils often struggles to achieve full ripeness. Auckland’s claret-style reds are typically less bold, dark and vibrantly fruity than those of Hawke’s Bay, with savoury, earthy notes that add complexity and interest. Syrah is also fast-expanding, especially on Waiheke Island, where the leading examples are powerful, sweet-fruited and opulent. Pinot Gris is the second most popular white-wine variety, but Chardonnay is still far ahead, producing weighty, ripe, tropical fruit-flavoured wines with rounded acidity. ‘In Auckland, on the vine Chardonnay matures early enough to ensure that it is always ripe enough to make quality wine,’ says Michael Brajkovich of Kumeu River, ‘but late-season varieties [such as Cabernet Sauvignon] can be difficult in cool years.’
Sub-regions: Matakana/Mahurangi, Kumeu/Huapai, Henderson, Waiheke Island and South Auckland. In the absence of high mountains and frequent strong winds, Auckland’s sub-regions have relatively similar climates. All five districts have the warm temperatures and high rainfall typical of Auckland, although the east coast areas — which have attracted most of the recent vineyard expansion — are slightly drier.
Principal grape varieties: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Cabernet Franc
Single Vineyard Wines
Since 1944 we've learning, testing and adapting to our site, our climate and our conditions. Over that time a few sites have put their hand up in producing outstanding single vineyard wines.
Kumeu River Estate Wines
The Kumeu River Estate range of wines are made from a selection of the better sites we have in Kumeu and represent the benchmark of quality that we can achieve.