Kumeu River purchased this Hawkes Bay site in 2017 (which had been planted in 2008 by Trinity Hill) and and are continually learning from the different terroir here. The limestone hillside sits at 180m altitude and is dry farmed (i.e. without irrigation). As with all Kumeu's top wines the fruit is hand harvested and whole bunch pressed before fermentation and maturation in barrel at Kumeu - with only a touch of new oak. New clonal plantings are in the blend for the first time in 2020, adding a component that makes this easily the best Rays Road we have tasted to date. Bright, pale yellow colour in the glass. This has a fresh, cool vibrancy on the nose but this year there is a little more richness and ripeness of fruit, bringing a lightly peachy character against a fresh citrus core. The palate follows, with real salinity and a cool note of green fruit before creamy pears and a hint of something riper come through. Silky and fine, this is long and subtle, all about the chalky, textural depth it possesses.
From a limestone, north-facing, dry-farmed hillside at 180 m. Spontaneous fermentation. Aged in old French oak.
Neat and well integrated, quite restrained. And already very accessible though with light, fine tannins and quite opulent fruit on the front palate. Sprightly. Lemon-pastille flavour. Very long. Beautifully made. 13.5% Drink 2021 – 2027
Oak – 100% barrel fermentation in older French Oak and 100% malolactic fermentation with 11 months maturation in barrel.
While the first two wines are ready to go and eminently affordable for everyday drinking, we now take a big step up for the rest of the portfolio. A new wine in the line-up and it pleases me greatly to see that it comes from Hawke’s Bay. I adore Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and I can certainly see why these coolish climate kings have chosen to seek more fruit and also more challenges in this part of Kiwiland. I love Rays road. Classy, layered and complete this is a very different take on this grape from the remainder of the portfolio, given that the rest come from Kumeu (north of Auckland). There is a distinct beginning, middle and end here, which is often a challenge in a new wine and particularly I love the acid line and elegance on the finish.
This is a fuller style from Hawke’s Bay and quite different from the rest of the Kumeu range of chardonnays. Bold, ripe peaches dominate the nose and palate. The texture is impressively silky and smooth. Very fleshy and complete. Impressive. Drink or hold. Screw cap.