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  • Time

    01:13 AM
  • Wine average?

    96 Tb
  • Popularity ranking?

    230

News

"...the long-serving, dedicated team behind Ata Rangi just go  from strength to strength. Their Pinots have always been great and yet, even in a world where the Pinot benchmark  gets higher every year, Ata Rangi is better than ever." Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, eRobertParker.com, April 2013

 

 

...an excellent tasting experience in a leafy setting with friendly and extremely knowledgeable cellar-door staff. A Martinborough style leader for 30 years."

Winsor Dobson, 
The Sydney Morning Herald 

 

"Not to drop by Ata Rangi on a visit to Martinborough would be akin to visiting the Louvre and missing the Mona Lisa. 
Ata Rangi has every right to consider itself one of New Zealand's finest wineries." 
Gourmet Traveller Wine

 

"Martinborough is one of the few regions that can be covered on foot, making it perfect wine trail territory. For a top-notch tasting experience, Ata Rangi's cellar door is a must. Here you can try national treasures such as its consistently thrilling Pinot Noir and classic Craighall Chardonnay." 
Jo Burzynska, NZ Herald, Viva.

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History

Ata Rangi, meaning "dawn sky" or "new beginning" is a small New Zealand winery with an enviable international reputation for PInot Noir. Located at the southern end of the North Island, it is owned and managed by a family trio - Clive Paton, wife Phyll and Clive's sister Ali. Clive planted the first vines on a small, stony sheep paddock at the edge of the Martinborough village in 1980 as one of a handful of people who pioneered winegrowing in the area. Ata Rangi Pinot Noir is undoubtedly the flagship wine, and in 2010 was honoured with the inauguralTipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa or "Grand Cru of New Zealand". With a skilled team in place, including dynamic winemaker Helen Masters, Clive now has more time to focus on his commitment to conservation and to the Ata Rangi alliance with Project Crimson.

 

Phyll recalls: Ata Rangi was a small, stony sheep paddock when Clive bought it with a wad of cash from the sale of his herd of cows back in 1980. His farming mates thought he was mad; grapes were unheard of in the region. But Clive knew what he was in for. "I'd regularly skin my knees playing rugby there, so I knew exactly how stony the ground was." He'd developed a passion for red wine but couldn't afford 'the good stuff' so, in classic Kiwi-style, thought he'd have a go himself. Ali, Clive's sister, shared his vision and soon bought 5 acres next door before heading off shore to study and work in the London wine trade.

 

Martinborough was pretty basic in those days - gravel roads, two pubs, a grocery/farm-supply store, service station and a fish-n-chip shop. Clive's resolve was strengthened by a 1978 scientific report which showed Martinborough had a microclimate similar to that of Burgundy. It also had the driest and windiest climate in the North Island, was fringed to the north-east by a 25 metre deep, free-draining alluvial gravel terrace, and was only an hour from the lively capital city of Wellington.

 

The early days were tough. With no trees for shelter, young vines struggled against the howling nor-westers. Clive relied on the sale of pumpkins and garlic that he'd grown between the rows, and on family and friends who pitched in to pumpkin and garlichelp. He was also a solo Dad, raising young daughter Ness. Local farmer and mate of Clive's, John Stephen, put up cash to form an early partnership, keeping Ata Rangi afloat until the vines came into production. They also enlisted 100 'barrel share' investors, each of whom stumped up $50 (in a primitive en-primeur scheme) to fund the first barrels. By the time I ran into Clive in 1986 he'd just won his first Gold Medal, no small thanks to the legendary 'gumboot clone' of Pinot Noir. "Trust me" he said back then"Within ten years we'll be able to walk into the village and choose which cafe we'd like to go to." Though not entirely convinced, I threw in my Marlborough wine-making job and, in a leap of faith, bought John's share and moved north to join the family.

 

More than three decades later - backed by a string of awards and accolades - Ata Rangi is well established in 25 international markets and has an enviable reputation as one of the New World's most respected Pinot Noir producers. And Clive was right... Martinborough has transformed from a rural backwater to a laid-back, charmingly rustic wine village with a cluster of cafes, restaurants, quirky boutiques and a day-spa; a popular destination for wine-and-food lovers from all over the world, and a great escape from bustling city life.

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Vineyards

Soil health is our big focus. We're now certaified to fully organic status, after several years of transition. Weeds are now kept under control by a Berti Ecology under-vineweeder which means herbicides are a thing of the past. Insecticides have never been used in the 30+ years of vineyard management at Ata Rangi, instead favouring biological options such as predatory wasps for leaf roller caterpillar control. Large scale compost is made on site from winery 'waste' - grape stalks, skins, pips and yeast lees. Biodiversity, vital in maintaining balanced insect and bird populations, is encouraged with the use of mixed native shelter-belts and inter-row wildflower planting.

 

Ata Rangi harvests fruit from around 120 acres. Almost half of these vineyards are company owned; the rest are leased and local contract grower blocks. Sites are all very close together, and feature the characteristic Martinborough Terrace profile of about 30cm of shallow silt-loam on top of 25 metre-deep alluvial gravels. Rainfall is low here; an average of 700mm per year. With Martinborough's dry climate, high winds and free-draining profile, disease pressure is very low.

 

Huge effort goes into achieving balanced vines to consistently deliver ripe, well balanced fruit. Hand leaf plucking during summer ensures open canopies, and all grapes are hand-picked. Spring is often cool and windy which takes its toll on fruit set, so yields are naturally low - 1 T/acre to 2.5 T/acre tops for Pinot Noir (average 4 T/ha). The original vines are now well over 30 years of age, a factor in the wines ascending quality and consistency from year to year, as is the hands-on emphasis in the vineyard. For Pinot Noir, clones planted are Abel (the legendary Gumboot clone),  Dijon 667, 777, 114 and 115, Pomard (aka Clone 5) and a smaller amount of 10/5. Most plants are on rootstock - typically 3309 or 101/14.

 

Ata Rangi is one of only a handful of ISO 14001 certified wineries in the world. This management standard, achieved over 15 years ago, calls for continual commitment to improve on practises which impact on the environment. We measure water, fuel and energy use, and challenge ourselves to find ways to reduce dependence on these resources. The vineyard and winery are also founding members of SWNZ (Sustainable Winegrowing of New Zealand) - a voluntary, industry-wide initiative developed to provide a 'best practice' model of environmental practices in both vineyard and winery.

 

The vineyards we manage are all within walking distance of our homes. The green areas show the main blocks. The Village Square (with radiating streets forming the shape of a Union Jack) is just one kilometre from the Ata Rangi winery. Martinborough itself has a tiny population of 1,500 residents but with 20 boutique-winery cellar doors, a dozen or more cafes and not a single traffic light for 50 km in any direction, many more make it a weekend or holiday destination.

The yellow gravelly-looking line illustrates the edge of the Martinborough Terrace, a defined area which is typified by the deep gravel soils - a hangover from the big thaw of the ice age when flooding waters 'washed' through the stones. Centuries of earthquakes have since lifted the terrace well above the river beds.

 

aerial-map

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Winemaking

With just nine wines in our range, along with occasional releases of limited-volume offerings for our mail order customers, it's possible to stay 'hands-on' and to give both vines and wines the attention they deserve. In all our wines we aim for fine balance, with structures and textures that deliver far more satisfying, almost more savoury, mouth-filling experiences than wines that rely mainly on youth and 'pretty' aromatics.

 

We produce two Pinots, the renowned Ata Rangi Pinot Noir and an earlier-drinking style called'Crimson', named for the charitable conservation trust Project Crimson which sales help to support.Célèbre is our very own 'Rhone-meets-Bordeaux', an enduringly popular Merlot/Syrah/Cabernet blend first produced in a lean-to shed in 1986! 



Two Chardonnays are included in the line-up; the silky, seamless, elegant Craighall from 28 year-old Mendoza clone vines, and the more vibrant, juicy, 'fully self-expressed' Petrie Chardonnay from a stony block 30 km north. This site has a slightly cooler run, reflected in the wine's fine minerality. 



On the aromatic side, a deliciously complex Sauvignon Blanc delivers riper flavours and more textural interest than the average Kiwi Sauvignon. As for all of our wines, these grapes are hand-picked which means that we can, if needed, exclude any remaining unripe "second set" or any damaged or mouldy berries. Our Lismore Pinot Gris is picked late in the season and crafted in a typically Alsation style - a perfect aperitif that pairs beautifully my favourite lemon-grass/ginger combo. 

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Inside information

Vintage 2014 / It's certainly true in this business that no matter how long you're in it, you'll never have two growing seasons the same. Martinborough 2014 was a case in point, with bud-burst occurring a full three weeks earlier than 'usual'. With the warm and damp December, canopy growth was strong.

It looked as though we might have the whole crop into the winery almost a month earlier than usual, which at the time made us a little nervous. We heard similar reports around the FXII family.
There's no particular upside in things happening early or quickly in this game. Instead, nature taking its time is just fine, particularly in the key grape-growth and ripening period. We're looking for as much hang-time as possible, enabling us to pick the fruit at peak physiological ripeness for best expression in the resulting wines.

Thankfully we didn't get the real mid-summer heat on top of the very early start. Instead we saw a much cooler back-end to the summer - very few days over 26 degrees, with cool nights through both January and even February.

Some folks may have felt cheated out of their summer holidays, but we were very happy to see the resulting slow-down and fruit ripeness get back into step with tannin development.
In early March, the whole country was preoccupied with Cyclone Lusi. The growing season had slowed, returning to about three weeks early overall, as it had started out. We were mentally and physically prepared which meant we could, and did, make the call to pick early as a hedge to the threat of inclement weather. As a result, 2014 was the first ever vintage where all our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay was in before April Fool's Day.

Lusi, as we know, turned out to be fizzer for much of the country and autumn settled into its regular dry pattern. At that point, one might have wondered whether we'd jumped the gun. As it turned out, our decisions were bang on. Firstly, we've seen excellent fruit ripeness, especially considering the cooler summer. The pinot is showing bright fruit expression with very fine tannins, while the whites have gorgeous aromatics and plushness of fruit. Secondly, when the heavens opened in the second half of April – normally the peak weeks of picking – 90% of the crop was already safely in the winery. There's no doubt that rain of that volume and duration would have had a massive impact on quality if our season hadn't been a few weeks early. It's always a gamble and a balancing act, second guessing the weather, and is not for the faint hearted!

Vintage Notes from Winemaker Helen Masters 

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1 different wines with 2 vintages

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Thomas Girgensohn, Wine Blogger (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Ata Rangi . In a tasting of  16 wines 

The top Elderton wine has always been the Command Shiraz. I could compare the 2016 and 2017 editions. The 2016 from the low yielding home block (1t per acre) is matured mostly in new oak lightly toasted puncheons, 2/3 American. Attractive blue fruit dominates the palate. The wine has good energy, and the acidity is well balanced (94 points). By comparison, the 2017 is lighter and fresher, but has enough fruit weight and attractive chocolate notes (94 points).

5m 1d ago

 Fred Gold, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Ata Rangi . In a tasting of  15 wines 

“Excellent tasting @ Peter Adesman's home. Mostly Pinot Noir from Oregon (with a few "ringers" from California & Burgundy)...followed by some wonderful German Riesling Auslese wines at the end.”

5y 4m ago

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