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Featured Reviews

Ata Rangi 2016 ‘Crimson’ and 2015 Martinborough Pinot Noirs

11 April,2017
As one of the pioneering wineries of the Martinborough district, Ata Rangi has an illustrious record with its Pinot Noir wines. Having won countless gold medals and top awards both in New Zealand and on the global scene, Ata Rangi Pinot Noir is quite rightly one of the great wines made in this country. Founder Clive Paton, his wife Phyll Pattie, his sister Alison and their team have over the years developed a most beautiful style of elegance, finesse, detail and complexity from their source of vineyards in the district centred around their base on Puruatanga Road on the Martinborough Terrace.

Of prime importance is the growing maturity of the Pinot Noir vines, the first planting yielding in 1983. The vine age has resulted in greater richness, balance and consistency not only in the flagship wine, but also the second tier ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir, which was originally created to take the fruit of younger plants, but now, the age of the vines is more than that of other premium wines in the district. As time has progressed, the vines have also become more integrated with the vineyard sites, this further enhancing their balance and performance. Another aspect resulting in the character and quality of the Ata Rangi Pinot Noirs is the use of the Abel clone, deemed particularly suitable in the Martinborough district. It accounts for a significant proportion of Ata Rangi’s plantings.

The above points were discussed with winemaker Helen Masters during a visit I made to Ata Rangi at the end of February, when I tasted a number of 2016 Pinot Noir barrel samples (click here the see my report). What I also saw in this visit was Helen’s knowledge, experience and approach in making the Ata Rangi Pinot Noirs. The detail and timing of action in the vineyards was deemed crucial for the best wine to be made. Helen attributes much of this from the accumulated experience she, the Patons and their team have gleaned over the period of over three decades in growing fruit and making the wines.

The vintages from 2013 to 2016 have been excellent ones for the Martinborough vignoble. It has been an exciting time for winegrowers in the district and for consumers who enjoy the wines from there. Here, I review the new release 2016 ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir and 2015 Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir. This 2015 makes a fascinating comparison with the 2013, a wine of richness, structure, sinew and nervosity and the 2014, which shows plush opulence and decadence. For me, the 2015 has precision and is a complete, seamless wine.


Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

Full, deep, dark ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is full and up-front with voluminous aromas of dark raspberries with notes of blackberries, lifted whole berry fermentation plum jam notes, unfolding liquorice and raspberry liqueur elements. This is very primary in expression and very accessible on nose. Medium-full bodied, the palate is rich and plush with succulently sweet and luscious flavours of ripe dark raspberries, blackberries and plums, unfolding red liquorice and raspberry liqueur layers. The fruit is supported by fine-grained, supple tannins and enlivened by fresh background acidity. The mouthfeel is rounded and approachable, the richness carrying the wine to a soft, fruit-laden finish. This is a rich and succulent, primary-fruited Pinot Noir with fine, supple tannins, a rounded mouthfeel and plenty of vibrant, primary energy and freshness. It needs a few months to harmonise, but is already delicious. Serve with Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 4-5 years. Hand-picked fruit, clones 5, 10/5, Abel and Dijon clones, vines 5-20 y.o., destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented with a high proportion of whole berries to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new French oak. Proceeds of sales of this wine go towards ‘Project Crimson’ for the conservation of the native Rata and Pohutakawa. 18.5/20 Apr 2017 RRP $36.00

Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

Full, very dark, deep, ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly concentrated with a deep, dense core of well-ripened dark-red cherry and berry fruit seamlessly melded with subtle dark-red florals, dark herbs, spices and oak elements, unfolding black-berried fruits. The aromatics are exceptionally harmonious and integrated, and the nose is quite complete. Medium-full bodied, the palate features rich and succulently sweet flavours of dark-red cherry and berry fruits along with black fruits lifted by dark-red and violet florals and subtle notes of dark herbs. Suggestions of spice and oak emerge. The flavours are beautifully precise, detailed and harmoniously balanced, and the mouthfeel very supple and fine-textured with flowery tannin extraction. The acidity is integrated and provides vitality for the refined core and line. The wine flows seamlessly to a long and sustained, complete finish. This is a beautifully rich and multi layered and detailed Pinot Noir of precision and harmony, with succulently sweet fruit and refined structure, enabling accessibility, and showing completeness. It will develop fine complexities over the next 7-10 years. Serve with poultry, pork, lamb and venison dishes. 40% Abel clone, the remainder 5, Dijon clones and 10/5 from the company’s oldest vines, indigenous yeast fermented with 35% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 20-26 days on skins and 11 months in35% new French oak. 19.5+/20 Apr 2017 RRP $75.00
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