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Ata Rangi 2018 Spring Release Mail Order Tasting

By November 1, 2018July 2nd, 2020No Comments
Phyll Pattie, Ness Paton & Alison Paton – Ata Rangi
I may no apologies for my admiration of Ata Rangi, its wines and the team behind them. The wines are consistently top class, and several of them, especially the Pinot Noir are proven to be world class. Clive Paton, Phyll Pattie and Alison Paton have ensured that family values and professionalism are at the heart of the business, and all the team are treated accordingly. Winemaker Helen Masters and vineyard manager Gerry Rotman, and the administration staff are all intimately involved and aware of the business that is being conducted.
It’s always a treat and pleasure to attend the annual Spring Release Mail Order Tasting, where the team offer the latest releases. This year, the wines from 2018 are at the forefront, but there are also wines from 2017, 2016 and 2015, plus a 2013 vintage wine. This spread of vintages enables a look at the variations from different growing conditions. 2018 was possibly the most difficult growing season for winemaker Helen Masters with cyclonic events being potentially ruinous. 2017 was a cool, wet vintage, and challenging also. 2016, 2015 and 2013 are regarded as excellent to outstanding years. How well the vineyard and winemaking team performed in the difficult years has resulted in wines of credit and quality that are not shamed by the better vintages. It is a sign of mature vines and vineyards, and the accumulated experience of over three decades of winegrowing. www.atarangi.co.nz

The Tasting

This year’s tasting was held at the QT Museum Hotel in Wellington. 11 wines were offered for tasting, and on hand to serve, discuss and answer questions were Clive, Phyll, Alison, Helen, Ness and Jillian. I find these tastings extremely informative, due to the order of service, the atmosphere and other factors that often give me a slightly different impression of the wines from when I’m conducting my more ‘clinical’ ‘Feature Reviews. On show were the 2018 Rosé, ‘Raranga’ Sauvignon Blanc and ‘Lismore’ Pinot Gris, which I had just done ‘Feature Reviews’ on (click here to see), as well as the 2016 ‘Craighall’ Chardonnay shown at last year’s mail order tasting. The 2018 wines were pretty much as I saw them but with slightly different emphasis on certain facets of the wines. The older wines had shown some bottle development giving greater complexity.

One point to note is that winemaker Helen Masters and the team are continually looking at enhancing the wines in terms of interest and textures. Even in the tough 2018 vintage, new winemaking techniques have been incorporated, and the more ‘conservative’ Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc wines now have considerably more sophistication.
Here are my impressions of the wines tasted, in the order as presented by Ata Rangi. My notes and scores were made in more ‘relaxed’ conditions, so I have not added them to my database. Website pricing is quoted. When I left the tasting, I was given four of the new wines in the line-up to conduct ‘Feature Reviews’ on. Keep an eye out for them!
Helen Masters – Ata Rangi
Ata Rangi ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2013 
Very pale colour. The bouquet is very fine, tight and intense with deep aromas of lime, toast and kero. The aromatics show lovely integration and are expressed with directness and linearity. Dry to taste and tightly bound with great elegance of style, this has a very refined, but lush core. Limes, toast and kero, but with freshness. The palate is crisp, fine and shows low pH softness. The wine flows seamlessly to a long finish. 12.5% alc., 5g/L RS, TA 7.1 g/L and pH 2.9. 70 cases made. 19.0-/20 Nov 2018 RRP $33.00
Ata Rangi ‘Raranga’ Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Very pale, near colourless. This has a very fresh and bright nose with piquant gooseberry, fresh herb and stonefruit aromas. This is essence of Sauvignon Blanc. Dry, tight, but surprisingly luscious, with sweet and savoury fruit, very fresh, bright, lively and elegant, this builds in richness, showing refined textures, and has mouthwatering acidity. Skin contact, whole bunch fermentation and 40% barrel-fermentation, and wild yeasts are employed here. 18.0+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $24.00
Ata Rangi Rosé 2018
A melange of varieties with Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir predominant, 70% Martinborough fruit and 30% Hawke’s Bay. Eye-of-the-partridge colour. This is fresh with fruitiness showing savoury quince and strawberry fruit. Dry to taste, this is rich and lush with sweet and savoury fruit, along with freshness and liveliness and flavours that build in depth, plus mouthwatering acidity. This s a lovely mouthfilling, fresh, fruity wine. 18.0+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $20.00
Ata Rangi ‘Lismore’ Martinborough Pinot Gris 2018 
Bright, pale straw-yellow colour. This is very elegant with a fine core, with rich stonefruit aromas, stonefruit kernels, florals and pears, all showing with harmony. Dryish to taste, this has a rich core with luscious and lively, bright exotic flavours. The seems more concentrated than what I had just reviewed a day earlier. Soft-textured, with excellent breadth now, but still retaining elegance. 13.5% alc. and 4.5 g/L RS, with some ferment in puncheon. 18.5/20 Nov 2018 RRP $28.00
Ata Rangi ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Chardonnay 2016
Light golden yellow colour with some depth. The nose has a soft richness and breadth with lovely integrated aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits, citrus fruit and layers of creamy, nutty, spicy oak and some mealy complexity. This has a full, rounded, lusciously rich palate of stonefruits and citrus fruits. The richness is balanced with lovely acid piquancy. Elegant and lingering finish. Mendoza clone fruit, fermented to 13.0% alc., 12 months in 24% new oak, partial MLF. 19.0/20 Nov 2018 RRP $45.00
Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2017 
Moderately deep, garnet-hued red. This is elegant, light and tight on the nose with an integrated amalgam of cherries and herbs, a touch of cooler-spectrum stalk, with suggestions of whole berry fermentation. Medium-bodied, the palate has rich and sweet fruitiness, and is quite lush. Red cherry fruit, a touch of herbs, with fine acid balance and supple tannin extraction and grip. The fruit sweetness captured gives this appeal, but essentially a little cool. Fully destemmed, but whole berries retained. 9 months in 20%new French oak. 18.0/20 Nov 2018 RRP $36.00
Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Ruby-red colour with some depth and garnet hues. This is a little shy on the nose, but opens to show breadth and volume of dark-red berry and cherry fruit with plum notes and integrated savoury, dark herbs. Medium-bodied, this is full, soft and plush, with layers of black and dark-red berry fruits, hints of plums with an array of herbs. This is fleshy, but balanced by fine-grained tannins. The acidity lends vibrancy to the plush finish. 40% Abel clone, 30% whole bunches, 11 months in 35%new oak. 19.0/20 Nov 2018 RRP $75.00
Ata Rangi ‘McCrone Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
Light, even ruby-red colour with some garnet. This is very firm, tight, dense and deep on the nose with black and dark-red berry fruit, with a subtle layering of savoury game with dark herbs and whole bunch stalk notes. This is complex, earthy and visceral. On palate full-bodied, powerful and near robust, with dense and concentrated black berry and plum flavours, herbs and earth. This has power and structure, and just beginning to show some secondary complexities. Abel, 5, 115 and 777 clones, 40% whole bunches, 11 months in 20% new French oak barriques. 19.0/20 Nov 2018 RRP $75.00
Ata Rangi ‘Juliet’ Martinborough Syrah 2015
Very dark, deep red colour. This has a very fine, elegant and tightly bound nose with fresh aromatic poise but real intensity, Blackberries, dark raspberries, violet florals, spices and pepper, both black and white. Fullish bodied, the palate is tight and fine, with lovely acid poise and cut and fine-grained flowery tannin extraction. The luscious and sweet black and dark raspberry fruits, spices and florals are refined and supple. From a single block on the ’Kahu’ vineyard. 12.5% alc., 11 months in 20% new French oak. 19.0-/20 Nov 2018 RRP $60.00
Ata Rangi ‘Celebre’ Martinborough 2015
Dark, deep ruby-red colour. The nose is full and softly bound with deep and dense, near robust aromas with a suggestion of rusticity, showing ripe plum and berry fruit with a little earth and game in a complex intermix. Full bodied and rounded, with rich and robust flavours, sweet and savoury, a little secondary game, and layers of detail. The fruit is brightened by the acidity with good tannin grip in support. A mouthfilling mouthfeel, and a satisfying wine for the soul. 48% Merlot, 30% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Franc, 12 months in 20% new French oak, then blended with a further 12 months in oak. 19.0-/20 Nov 2018 RRP $40.00
Ata Rangi ‘Kahu’ Martinborough Botrytis Riesling 2018 
Bright, light golden-yellow colour. This is full, rich, soft with fresh lime, honey and exotic floral and citrus fruit notes with nectar and musk. This has depth, intensity and solid density, but with aromatic cut. Very sweet, the Riesling varietal flavours of limes and florals, with tropical fruit notes stand alongside the opulent honey, marmalade and musky botrytis. Decadently soft and dense, but with fine acid cut and fresh poise. Seamless flowing, piquant and sustained. 12.0% alc. and 130 g/L RS. (375ml) 19.0/20 Nov 2018 RRP $34.00
Jillian Jesseph – Ata Rangi

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