The Pinot Noirs of Ata Rangi are what wine enthusiasts go bonkers over. It's very French in its style with highly appealing aromas of florals, spiced cherries and hints of mocha, along with a touch of white pepper. The palate is medium-bodied with red and black berries at its heart, licks of savouriness, tight acidity, fine tannins, and a long, spicy finish. This little puppy will live and improve for a few years.
Ata Rangi is owned and run by Clive Paton and his wife Phyll, together with Clive's sister Alison and winemaker Helen Masters. Clive planted the bare, stony five hectare home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980 and, in doing so, was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Renowned for their Pinot Noir, which is consistently ranked as one of New Zealand's best, Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Vineyards: Ata Rangi's vineyards are situated in Martinborough, in the Wairarapa region to the north of Wellington. In early 2014 their vineyards achieved full organic certification. Grapes are planted on a thin layer of well-drained alluvial soil. Only the oldest and most revered parcels of fruit are used. The clonal make up of Ata Rangi Pinot Noir is unique to the region with the major portion (40%) being the Abel clone. This clone is later to flower and avoids some of the worst of the spring weather.
Vintage Information: Autumn of the 2015 season was stunning, with March bringing cool nights and fine bright days; a welcome respite from the winds of late January which had tested the mettle of the vineyard team applying the large overhead bird nets. The seeds of the Pinot were brown and nutty in mid-February, signalling that physiological ripeness was well ahead of sugar accumulation, a winemaker’s enduring aspiration. The result is a fitting Pinot Noir to mark Ata Rangi's 35th year on the land in Martinborough. Fruit was harvested between the 14th of March and 4th of April.
Vinification: 35% of the fruit was whole bunch pressed with the remainder de-stemmed. A cool pre-fermentation maceration lasted five to six days before fermentation with indigenous yeasts with temperatures up to 32°C. All different clones and vineyards were kept separate during fermentation. After pressing, the wine was then aged for 11 months in French oak, of which 35% was new. During this time, malolactic fermentation was completed. The wine was bottled in August 2016.
Tasting Notes: Exotic spice of star anise and sandalwood layer with dark cherry and rose petal on the nose. As is a hallmark of Ata Rangi Pinot, a savoury herbal note reminiscent of oregano offsets more overt fruit characters. The palate is bright, fluid and focused. Fine tannins build through the mid palate carrying the wine to a long elegant finish.
Serving Temperature: It is important to serve Pinot Noir slightly cooler than a typical room temperature, 14-16°C, to best enjoy the unfolding layers of aroma and flavour as the wine gently warms in the glass.