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Ata Rangi 2017 New Release Tasting

By October 11, 2017No Comments
Ata Rangi gateway to superb wine – Photo from Ata Rangi
One of New Zealand’s icon wine producers, Ata Rangi, in Martinborough continues its fine form, and indeed, is always improving the breed with the constant fine tuning in the vineyard and the winemaking. Key to the quality is the company’s superb resource of old vines which are around three decades of age. Clive Paton, Phyll Pattie and Ali Paton had the foresight to plant the best vine material available, and to establish strong bonds with growers of high quality fruit over the years. Ata Rangi’s vineyards, which are predominantly on the Martinborough Terrace, come under the care of Gerry Rotman, who is clearly a ‘vine whisperer’. Helen Masters is the winemaker, and under her guidance, the Ata Rangi wines have grown in finesse and sophistication. She attributes much of this advancement to the increasing maturity of the vines and their harmony with their sites.
Ata Rangi hosted their annual New Release Tasting at PreFab Hall in Wellington. The wines tasted were as strong as ever. On show were wines from the challenging 2017 season, where winegrowers were prompted to pick earlier to avoid rain damage. Yet, even in in this vintage, there are some innovations carried out by the team at Ata Rangi that have taken the style of the wines to a new level of sophistication. I can’t wait to see these new inputs and techniques applied to the fruit from an excellent vintage. Here are my notes on the wines tasted. The prices are those quoted on the order form for the event. www.atarangi.co.nz

Ata Rangi ‘Lismore’ Martinborough Pinot Gris 2017
Very pale straw colour. The nose is elegant but intense with finely concentrated aromas of pears and stonefruits with floral lift and hints of honeysuckle. Dry to taste, the palate is tightly bound and crisp. The fruit expression is more slender than a riper vintage, but this still has fruit intensity of stonefruits and pears. The mouthfeel is near-racy, but flows seamlessly to a cool, clear finish.. From vines up to 22 y.o., fruit hand-picked and WBP, fermented partially by indigenous yeasts in tank and 500 L puncheons to 13.5% alc. and 4 g/L RS, the wine aged on lees. 18.0+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $28.00
Ata Rangi ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2012 
Brilliant colour, very pale straw, with some depth. The bouquet is very elegant and very concentrated with fruit density, showing complex secondary notes to the lime fruit, with some kero notes to the toastiness. Very much rounded in presentation and complete. Dry to taste, the palate is firmly concentrated with fruit extract textures, the acidity softening. Lovely harmony of lime fruit and secondary development, excellent linearity and length. Fruit from the ‘Craighall’ vineyard, some vines over 30 y.o., hand-picked and WBP, and indigenous yeast fermented in tank to 12.5% alc. and 5 g/L RS, TA 7.1 g/L and pH 2.9. 70 cases made. 18.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $38.00
Ata Rangi ‘Raranga’ Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
‘Raranga’ means ‘woven’ in Maori, reflecting the winemaking techniques. The first release of an alternative Sauvignon Blanc style. Very pale straw with slight green hues. The nose is very fine and taut, showing cooler-spectrum gooseberry fruit, green stonefruits, nettle herbs and nutty elements, quite slender. Dry to taste, the palate is tightly bound with intense and aromatic flavours of green stonefruits, nectarines with gooseberries, along with nettle elements and spices, revealing mineral hints. The texture is very fine, and the palate is crisp with brisk acidity. Good line, finishing with lightness. The cooler vintage shows, but the inputs positive and subtle, and in balance. Hand-picked fruit, 10% fermented on skins for 8 weeks, 4% whole bunch fermented, 40% in barrel by indigenous yeasts with high solids to 12.5% alc., a portion undergoing MLF. 18.0/20 Oct 2017 RRP $24.00
Ata Rangi ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Chardonnay 2016 
Bright pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is softly full with complex layers of ripe citrus fruit and stonefruits, creamy barrel-ferment, mealy notes and sweet oak. This is beautifully aromatic, showing lovely finesse. Rich and fulsome on the palate, and quite accessible, the flavours are soft and harmoniously interwoven, but deeply rich. Stonefruits, citrus fruits, mealy notes, and creamy, nutty oak. It is all there, but there is fresh acid cut. The textures are soft allowing immediate approachability, and there is strength and underlying power. Mendoza clone fruit from the ‘Craighall’ vineyard, the oldest vines over 30 y.o., hand-picked, WBP and fully indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 24% new French oak barriques, undergoing partial MLF. 19.0+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $45.00
Ata Rangi Martinborough Rosé 2017
Very pale pink colour, light edged. The nose is fresh with aromas of strawberries and cream, the fruit with good ripeness, the componentry very harmoniously presented, and quite mouthwatering from the youthfulness. Dry to taste, the palate is elegant in proportion, quite taut with strawberries and cream, along with thirst-quenching bitter cherry notes and a touch of herbs. Very fine-textured, and lively, crisp acidity, finishing clean, dry and lightly nuanced with red fruits. All Martinborough fruit, a blend of 35% Syrah, 30% Merlot, 15% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay, the Pinot Noir fermented in barrel, to 13.5% and dryness. 17.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $20.00
Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Moderately deep, cerise-ruby red with youthful purple hues. This is ripe, up-front and juicy with sweet, aromatic fruits, with dark raspberries and cherries and plum notes. This is easy to access and is inviting with its sweetness. Beautifully and fully ripe on palate, the fruit is sweet and juicy, with raspberries and plums. The fruit is underlined by fine tannin extraction providing noticeable structure and grip. The primary fruit as I saw when last tasted is giving way to the extract. The acidity lends freshness and vibrancy still. 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. 18.5/20 Oct 2017 RRP $36.00
Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
Deepish ruby-red with youthful purple hues. This has a full, ripe and layered nose, multi-faceted with dark red berry fruits, an array of red and violet florals, and subtle dark herb elements, some whole bunch showing (?), all interwoven and quite complete in all dimensions. Rich, sweetly ripe, rounded and mouthfilling with a very finely concentrated core, with layers of flavour, with fruits herbs and oak all in harmony. The mouthfeel is one of richness and finesse, the tannins velvety, with piquant acidity and there is underlying power. Incredibly beautiful. 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 in 35% new French oak. 19.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $75.00
Ata Rangi ‘McCrone Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014
Dark, deep ruby-red colour. The bouquet is intensely deep with complex secondary notes, the nose showing bold, savoury dark red berry fruits with dried herbs, whole bunch stalk lift and nuances of undergrowth. Full-bodied on palate, this has weight and power, with depth and concentration. The fruit is sweetly rich with savoury dark-red berry, cherry and plum notes with dark and dried herbs, stalk elements, and nuances of game and undergrowth. The extraction and structure is considerable, and the acidity balanced and integrated. A fulsome and complex wine already. The fifth release of this single site label. Clones Abel, 5, 116 and 777, fermented with 30% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 20% new French oak barriques. 19.0-/20 Oct 2017 RRP $75.00
Ata Rangi ‘Celebre’ Martinborough 2014 
Dark, deep, ruby-red colour. This has great depth and soft concentration with plump plummy Merlot fruit dominating. The nose unfolds layers with dark herbs, spices, pepper and dark curranty fruits. The palate is bright and lively with rich plum, berry and curranty fruit forming a fine, concentrated core with strong linearity. The textures and acidity lend energy and carry the fruit to a long, black-fruited finish. This has firmness and suggestions of robustness. This will age well. A blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc, with uninoculated fermentations to 13.0% alc., the wine on skins 25 days and aged 17 months in 20% new French oak. 18.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $40.00


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