Featured Reviews

Ata Rangi 2013 ‘Craighall’ Riesling, 2017 ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir, 2015 ‘McCrone’ Pinot Noir and 2018 ‘Kahu’ Botrytis Riesling

07 November,2018

The greatest wine producers in the world often make only one wine, putting all their resources and focus in making that singular wine as good as it can be. But for me, a producer that can make top wine across different categories and varieties has a more accomplished ability, as it takes a wider understanding of the world of wine to know how to achieve in diverse fields. One such wine producer is Ata Rangi in Martinborough, already regarded as one of New Zealand’s best.

I recently attended Ata Rangi’s Spring Release tasting for mail order clients (click here for my report), and when I left, I was given four wines in the tasting vintage, line-up for ‘Feature Review’ these wines being new releases. One of the wines comes from the 2018 vintage which winemaker Helen Masters regarded as one of her most difficult ever. I have recently tasted three other wines from 2018 from Ata Rangi, and these were remarkably good considering (click here to see the reviews).

The wines reviewed here are the 2013 ‘Craighall’ Riesling, 2017 ‘Crimson’ (from a cool vintage) and 2015 ‘McCrone’ Pinot Noirs, the latter appearing more refined that at the mail order tasting, plus the 2018 ‘Kahu’ Botrytis Riesling. www.atarangi.co.nz


Ata Rangi ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2013

Riesling from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Brilliant straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, lighter on the rim. The bouquet is elegantly proportioned with finely concentrated, deep and intense, but soft aromas of white florals and lime fruit harmoniously melded with a subtle thread of secondary toasty complexities, unfolding thirst-quenching minerals. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is refined in presentation with good intensity of lime fruit and white florals, harmoniously entwined with a little complexing toastiness and mineral elements. The palate has subtle fruit extract textures which guide the wine along a seamless line, with lacy acidity enlivening and lengthening the finish. This is an elegant and refined, but intensely flavoured dry Riesling with lime, floral, toasty and mineral flavours on a soft-textured palate with a fresh finish. Serve as an aperitif and with seafood over the next 4-5+ years. Hand-picked Riesling fruit from the ‘Craighall’ vineyard, vines over 30 y.o., WBP and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.5% alc. and 5 g/L RS, TA 7.1 g/L and pH 2.9. 19.0/20 Nov 2018 RRP $33.00

Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2017

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Ruby-red colour with hints of garnet, showing moderate depth, a little lighter edged. The nose is finely proportioned with good intensity of dark red cherry and berry fruit along with a subtle thread of fresh and dark herbs, a touch of pepper and spice, and suggestions of nutty oak. Medium-bodied, the palate has sweet and juicy flavours of dark-red cherry and berry fruit along with subtle fresh and dark herb notes. The mouthfeel is lively and energetic, with light, grainy tannin extraction providing structure, framework and texture, and fresh lacy acidity lending brightness. The fruit richness is the feature and carries to an elegant, moderately long finish. This is an elegant and vibrant Pinot Noir with cherry, berry and subtle herb flavours on a palate with good textures and freshness. Serve with antipasto, tapas and Mediterranean cuisine over the next 4+ years. Hand-picked fruit from younger vine parcels, clones Abel, Dijon, 5 and 10/5, vines 5-20 y.o., fully destemmed but retaining whole berries, indigenous yeast fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 9 months in 20% new French oak. 17.5+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $36.00

Ata Rangi ‘McCrone Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Even, garnet-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The bouquet is softly full, a little restrained in fruit expression, but shows plenty of vinous presence. The nose unfolds to reveal aromas of ripe dark-red berry fruit entwined with an amalgam of savoury dark herbs, whole bunch stalk nuances and a little earth. This builds in depth, but retains a degree of finesse. Medium-full bodied, the palate is elegantly concentrated with a rounded core of well-packed flavours of savoury red berry fruits with hints of black fruits, dark herbs and stalk nuances. The fruit richness is balanced by fine-grained, powdery tannin extraction with soft acidity enhancing the rounded mouthfeel. Savoury earthy complexities emerge as the wine carries smoothly to a long finish. This is an elegantly concentrated Pinot Noir with complex, savoury red berry fruits, herb and earthy notes, whole bunch stalk hints on a rounded and smooth-textured flowing palate. Match with casseroles and slow-cooked game dishes over the next 6-7+ years. Clones Abel, 5, 115 and 777 from the ‘McCrone’ vineyard, indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc. with 40% whole bunches, the wine aged 11 months in 20% new French oak barriques. 19.0-/20 Nov 2018 RRP $75.00

Ata Rangi ‘Kahu’ Martinborough Botrytis Riesling 2018

Sweet Wine from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, lighter edged. The nose is softly full concentrated and well-packed aromas of ripe citrus fruit and tropical fruit along with a layer of honey and nectar, with apricot marmalade and musk botrytis interwoven with the fruit. A hint of lift adds to the aromatics. This is decadent and opulent. Very sweet to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has rich and luscious, opulent flavours of ripe tropical and citrus fruits with wild honey notes and nectar, integrated with apricot, marmalade and musk. The palate has a concentrated core with good density that will reveal more complexity. The mouthfeel is smooth, rich and unctuous, with a fine line of acidity providing cut and energy. The wine carries to a decadent, sustained finish. This is a rich and lusciously opulent botrytised Riesling with tropical and citrus fruit with honey, apricot and musky marmalade, on a deep-hearted palate with an unctuous mouthfeel. Three picks of botrytised Riesling from the ‘Kahu’ vineyard, the whole bunches foot-trodden and rehydrated overnight, and cool-fermented in tank to 12.0% alc. and 130 g/L RS, TA 6.2 g/L and pH 3.38. (375 ml) 19.0+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $34.00

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