Ata Rangi Martinborough 2015 ‘Celebre’ and 2016 Pinot Noir


Clive Paton was one of the pioneers in Martinborough, planting vines in 1980 to make wine similar to what he had enjoyed during his adult life. As with the others new to the district, he planted a melange of varieties guided by the scientific findings of Derek Milne at the time as to what would be suitable. Clive’s first meagre crops of 1983 and 1985 were in reality insufficient to think about commercialising the wine, which was of unknown quality. 1986 saw wine deemed of quantity and quality to try to sell, with the help of his sister Alison who also owned vineyard land, and his new life partner Phyll. The first red wines were a varietal Pinot Noir (with a little Cabernet Sauvignon in it), actually made in 1985, along with a blended red of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a little Syrah, ‘Super-Siebel’ and Malbec. This latter wine was named ‘Celebre’, and the style harked back to that of some delicious Italian reds that Clive in particular favoured. The first vintage was the 1986.

Nowadays, Ata Rangi’s Pinot Noir and ‘Celebre’ are the company’s primary red wines (with the occasional Syrah, and a single vineyard Pinot Noir bottled separately). The performance of the vines and the wines, particularly over the cold Mount Pinatubo affected vintages of 1992 and 1993 saw the Pinot Noir take the lead. However it was the style and quality of the wine in relationship to top-class Burgundy that saw an incredible global interest in the Ata Rangi Pinot Noir. Winning high profile competition awards certainly aided in its recognition. Without any doubt, it is one of this country’s best red wines. I’ve always rated it among my best Pinot Noirs every year.

Interestingly, the wine that is closest to Clive Paton’s heart is the ‘Celebre’. He loves the more robust and mouthfilling nature of the wine and country feel about it. The wine has also continued to evolve over time to show more finesse and balance. I’ve attended vertical tastings of ‘Celebre’ that confirm it has excellent longevity. Clive and winemaker Helen Masters take great care to preserve the style as originally intended, as a hearty and interesting red to go well with a variety of food. Clive reports that the wine will be an interesting one to develop in style over the next 20 years! Here, I review the latest bottlings, the 2015 ‘Celebre’, possibly one of the best I’ve tasted, and the 2016 Pinot Noir, a great follow-on to the magnificent 2015, this showing the Abel clone influence strongly for me. www.atarangi.co.nz


  • Ata Rangi ‘Celebre’ Martinborough 2015
  • Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016

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