Wine Advocate 2021 (91 pts)
From a recently acquired, limestone-based vineyard in Central Hawke’s Bay, the 2019 Rays Road Chardonnay is a new addition to the lineup. A bit more floral and citrusy than the Kumeu-region bottlings, this shows plenty of pineapple and even lemon-lime aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, it’s crisp and zesty, with a long, citrusy finish. Drink Date: 2021-2030
95 Points – Bob Campbell MW, The Real Review 2021
Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com (179), September 2020 (16.5+)
From the Brajkoviches’ new Hawke’s Bay site, acquired as their estate in the Auckland suburbs is increasingly threatened by urban development. On a limestone hillside at 180 m facing north. Dry-farmed, hand-harvested, whole-bunch pressed and fermented with indigenous yeast in older French oak barrels. The usual 100% malo and 11-month oak maturation.
Smells just a little rawer than the Kumeu single-vineyard Chardonnays I have just been tasting. Perhaps it was mean of me to taste it after them. I will go back and compare to the Estate 2019 bottling (suaver but probably less long-lived). Good grip and undertow. This site has a lot to say for itself but is just summoning up the courage. I love the eloquent, reverberant finish. The lime-fruited nose and front palate need a bit of time, I think, to shed their apparently simplicity. 13.5%
Drink 2021 – 2026.
Rebecca Gibb MW, vinous.com, November 2020 (90 pts)
This is just the second vintage of Rays Road, and it is a delightfully restrained yet energetic Chardonnay. Despite the warm, dry year, it has maintained a taut, citrusy structure, lovely fine acid length and an almost salty texture. Winemaker Michael Brajkovich suggested that this tension is, in part, due to differences in ripeness within bunches as well as the site’s limestone soils.
Cam Douglas, Master Sommelier
A lovely wine, expressive, balanced and varietal showing off all the hallmarks of Kumeu River Chardonnay this wine has a purity of fruit, generous weight, is balanced fresh and well made. With just a whisper of oak the ore of this wine centers on the flavours of pear and peach, a hint of tropical fruit and citrus. Balanced with medium length. Drink now and through 2022