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Ata Rangi 2016 Spring Release Mail Order Tasting

By October 19, 2016No Comments

Helen Masters – Ata Rangi

It’s always a pleasure to catch up with the Ata Rangi crew and taste their new wines. Clive Paton, Phyll Pattie and Ali Paton are well-versed in presenting their wines, and talking about their history stretching back to their pioneering Martinborough days in 1980, when Clive first planted vines. Their detailed knowledge of the history is matched by winemaker Helen Masters’ technical and style expertise, with the family and company for over a decade. She has been one of those instrumental in fine-tuning the wines, keeping them at the forefront of New Zealand wine quality. I recently reviewed a selection of the new releases, and all that I tasted were of 5-star level. I’m not alone in believing Ata Rangi is one of this country’s best wine producers (click here to see my reviews).

The Ata Rangi team were in Wellington presenting their wines being offered for 2016-2017, at their annual spring mail order customer tasting, this year held at Prefab Hall. They had the full range of wines available, including wines that I did not review. Here are my brief thoughts on the wines, the notes added to my database, though tasting and the event were taken more casually by me, as I wanted to say hello and talk to the team. I took photos of the team too, and show them here. The prices quoted are cellar door. www.atarangi.co.nz

Jillian Jesseph – Ata Rangi

Ata Rangi Rosé 2016
This is 55% Merlot from Craggy Range in Hawke’s Bay with the remainder Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir from Ata Rangi sires, fermented bone dry. Helen reckons Merlot picked early gives the higher acidity, Pinot Noir often a little too “coating and sweet”. We talked about Tempranillo being an ideal rosé variety, and Helen says the new plantings of Tempranillo at Ata Rangi will actually go into the up-coming rosé wines. Pale pink, this shows delicate and pristine red florals, the nose cool and fresh with subtle herbal nuances. Dry to taste, this is mouthwatering with the finesse of rainwater with lacy freshness, along with lifted red floral fruit. Quite beautiful and a wine that works its magic quietly. 18.0-/20 Oct 2016 RRP $20.00

Ata Rangi ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2012 
This is a no-compromise dry Riesling that for me gives a nod to the great dry Australian Rieslings of the Eden Valley. It’s a classic style in a world sense, but can be a shock to the system for Kiwi Riesling drinkers used to higher sugar and lower acidity. The other aspect of this wine is that it has been given bottle-age, and has developed complexity. Still very pale colour, the nose is strikingly intense and concentrated with firmly bound lime and toasty notes and a little kero. Very dry, quite mouthwatering, and very concentrated, the depth of flavour is noteworthy. There is fruit richness and extract, but finesse and tautness. It will live for a long time. 19.0-/20 Oct 2016 RRP $38.00

Ata Rangi Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 
Helen has worked very hard at making a style that is suited to her fruit and the district, giving a point of difference to the passionfruity thiol-monsters of the 2016 Marlborough vintage. Elegance, freshness of fruit, more methoxypyrazine gooseberry fruit, bright acidity and delicate textures were the aim, and for this, she’s used some skin contact and 30% in barrel. Very pale straw. The nose is tight and elegant with ripe yellow stonefruits and green stonefruits, and no tropical fruit. On palate crisp and steely with a slippery mouthfeel. Gooseberry fruit with subtle textures and detail. But the fruit and freshness prevail. It’s a more slender wine than some of the worked examples made elsewhere. 17.5+/20 Oct 2016 RRP $24.00

Phyll Pattie – Ata Rangi

Ata Rangi ‘Lismore’ Martinborough Pinot Gris 2016 
This is the one wine which has quietly grown in stature. Being Pinot Gris, it’s all about subtlety, with restrained flavour, but layers of them and fine textures with complex detail. Indigenous yeast, puncheon work and lees contact. Very pale straw. Tight, but with a soft density of white stonefruits with subtle nutty and mineral complexities. Dryish to taste – every year a little drier – yet retaining richness and even a degree of opulence. The mouthfeel is rich and plush, the acidity is excellent for the variety. The best Pinot Gris to date? 19.0/20 Oct 2016 RRP $28.00

Ata Rangi ‘Petrie’ Wairarapa Chardonnay 2015
Always a wonderful comparison with the ‘Craighall’, the ‘Petrie’ from a higher altitude, cooler site AT East Taratahi, which lends it to the contemporary gunflint elegance. Bright, very pale straw yellow. This is very intense and penetrating with sweet stonefruits entwined with gunflint and minerals, but completed by smoke, nuts and oak. On palate very tight, fresh and crisp, but still with sweet, underlying friuit. This combines luscious and raciness with minerality. This looks even better than when I reviewed it a couple of weeks ago. 19.0/20 Oct 2016 RRP $28.00

Ata Rangi ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Chardonnay 2015 
This shows richness and layers of fruit with barrel-ferment, and a far more opulent mouthfeel, but not the penetration. This just fills the mouth. Old vines doing their job. Bright straw-yellow with geeen hues. This is creamy and nutty, the barrel ferment and oak totally melded with layers of sweet, ripe stonefruits and tropical fruit, mealy notes, and integrated MLF butteriness. The palate reflects the dev=cadence of the nose, the savoury fruit balancing the sweetness. Soft and lush textures, yet fine, poised acidity. Very rich, long finishing. Something very special here, and a must buy. 19.5/20 Oct 2016 RRP $38.00

Eleanor Dodd – Ata Rangi

Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
Everything a ‘young vine’ Pinot Noir should be – fresher, lighter, more accessible, and not sharper, harsher or greener as many second labels can be. Moderately deep ruby-red with youthful purple hues. The fruit flavours of dark-red berry fruits are fresh, vibrant, ripe and bright, with nuances of fresh herbs. This has wonderful primary fruit lift and fragrance. On palate just so juicy and succulent, with plush and vibrant dark red cherry and berry fruits, subtle herbal lift, very fine extraction and refreshing acidity. The wine has linearity and seriousness at the core. But it is just delicious. 18.5+/20 Oct 2016 36.00

Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014 
The Martinborough district was blessed with successive outstanding vintages in 2013 and 2014, and for that matter also in 2015 and 2016. The comparisons are being made now with the former pair being released. I love the smooth ripeness and richness of the 2014. Dark, deep ruby-red colour, but not too full. However on the nose very full with volume and layers of ripe dark-red berry fruits with suggestion of plums relieved by violet and red florals and hints of refreshing herbs. The richness, harmony and perfectly judge ripeness is the feature. Beautifully soft, lush and refined on palate, the richness is balanced by fine acid and very refined tannin extraction. The structure is serious though, unfolding to fill the mouth with the fruit. This is a plush and very complete in expression. The 2013 has an acid edginess which takes it just a little further, and I think the 2013 will live a little longer too. But that’s nit-picking. 19.5/20 Oct 2016 RRP $75.00

Ata Rangi ‘McCrone Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013 
From the ‘McCrone’ site, the vines younger, and not quite the clonal diversity, but seen as sufficiently distinctive for an individual bottling. Ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues. This is very firm and tightly bound with striking complex secondary savoury aromas melded with the Martinborough Terrace earthy and game-nuanced notes. The palate takes the aromas and open them up in flavour unfolding complex detail. The fruit is still sweet and rich, enlivened by fine acidity, but the extraction is serious with a firm core that grows and carries the wine to its long lingering finish. This is classical savoury, complex and structured Martinborough Pinot Noir, already showing what it has got. 18.5+/20 Oct 2016 RRP $75.00

Clive Paton – Ata Rangi

Ata Rangi ‘Celebre’ Martinborough 2014 
A blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Again an interesting comparison with the 2013, which to me was vigorous, robust, textural and very ageworthy. This 2014 has a dark, deep ruby-red colour, and on this showing the Cabernets are showing through with their curranty aromas and flavours. But there’s supporting black plum, herbs and red fruit aromas and flavours too. Lovely stylish, fine-grained tannin extraction lending a velvety flow. The terms stylish and sophisticated come to mind, and this has a degree of finesse and accessibility. I rate the 2013 and 2014 Celebre the same, but mu palate will drink the 2014 now. 18.5+/20 Oct 2016 RRP $40.00

Ata Rangi ‘Kahu’ Martinborough Botrytis Riesling 2016
This is Ali Paton’s favourite wine, fruit from the neighbouring Hensley family’s block, Helen relishing making it. 12.0% alc. and 130 g/L RS. Pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is soft in volume and refreshing, unfolding decadent aromas of lime marmalade and honied botrytis, with nectar, lifted exotic tangerine and jasmine notes, along with musk and talc. Very sweet, lush and decadent, with honey, lime, tangerine and exotic yellow florals, this has layers of honey and musk. The palate is near unctuous, smooth flowing and seamless, but balanced by fine underlying acid freshness. Gorgeously decadent without any cloying or clumsiness, this is exquisite in balance. (375 ml) 19.0-/20 Oct 2016 RRP $34.00

Alison Paton – Ata Rangi

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