Interview Michael Brajkovich, Kumeu River Wines

Michael, Master of Wine, in the middle
Michael, Master of Wine, in the middle

Name: Michael Brajkovich

Winery: Kumeu River Wines

Town/Country: Kumeu, New Zealand

  1. Which spot in your vineyard is the most special and why?

At the top of the Hunting Hill vineyard there is a very good view of Mate’s Vineyard, and out to the West, the Waitakere Ranges. It’s beautiful and it’s a reminder of what we are and where we are.

Kumeu's top cru
Mate’s Vineyard, Kumeu’s top cru
  1. If you link the dots in your life, which experience was the most crucial relating to how you make your wine today?

In the first instance, travelling to South Australia in 1979 to study Oenology at Roseworthy College was pivotal in my career, followed by a stint in France for the 1983 Harvest. I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time over very many years, and had the benefit of many great mentors such as Mate Brajkovich (my father), Tom McDonald, Bob Baker, Bryce Rankine, Richard Smart, Peter Dry, Jack Schultz, Christian Moueix, Jean-Claude Berrouet, Sarah Morphew, Hugh Phillips and Kit Stevens.

  1. What kind of music do you enjoy listening to when making wine in your cellar?

I really prefer silence in the cellar so I can listen and hear what’s going on, particularly during barrel fermentation and MLF. The sounds of the winery will also tell you if something is going wrong. And I prefer talking to my colleagues rather than shouting.

Otherwise my taste in music is fairly broad, but centred on Rock and Roll and venturing into Country, Blues, Soul and Jazz, with a smattering of Classical and Opera. My all-time favourite band is the Beatles, and I am currently listening to old John Fogerty, Rockpile, Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe recordings.

4. Name a regional dish from your area, which matches best with one of your wines.

Fresh Crayfish from the West coast is extremely hard to get these days, but when we can we cook it quickly and serve with a simple dressing of olive oil and vinegar. It is the best accompaniment I can think of for our Chardonnay wines.

  1. Name a restaurant from your recent travels around the world, which changed the way you thought about food and why?

Le Bernadin in New York. I ate a menu of exquisite seafood from start to finish, and it was a superb expression of the chef’s art as well as being from wonderful ingredients. It also meant that I could drink white wine right through the courses, and why not?  I would like to present such a degustation menu with only our white wines (chardonnay, pinot gris and gewürztraminer) to accompany it.

  1. If your wine would die, who or what would it come back as (person/animal)?

Grace Kelly.

Packshot Kumeu Chardonnay Mates 2011
Regularly clocking in the mid-90s range in ratings by wine experts

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