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.