Ata Rangi 2016 ‘Crimson’ and 2015 Martinborough Pinot Noirs

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
  • Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015

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