Here it is. One of the most hotly anticipated releases of 2018 - the 2017 Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir.
'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 very year, Ata Rangi is better than ever.' - Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate
'Ata Rangi is the crowned king of New Zealand Pinot Noir. It has been making stunning wine for a long time; experience, vine age and a great vineyard site giving a competitive edge.' - Decanter
Ata Rangi winemaker, Helen Masters, was recently awarded the 2019 NZ Winemaker of the Year, by Gourmet Traveller Wine.
The previous 2016 vintage was pointed very highly:
99 Points - Sam Kim, Wine Orbit
98 Points - Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com
98 Points - Bob Campbell MW
19.5 / 20 Points - Raymond Chan
95 Points - Jamie Goode, Wine Anorak
95 Points - Gary Walsh
94 Points - Huon Hooke
94 Points - Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate
And the current release of 2017 Crimson Pinot is pulling in some great reviews, leading us to believe that the 2017 flagship wine for Ata Rangi will be a complete hit.
The 2017 season was cooler than average, delivering wines of complexity and vibrant acid structure.
Only the oldest and most revered parcels of fruit are used in this, our premium Pinot Noir. The fabled Abel clone, allegedly smuggled from Burgundy in the mid-70s, makes up 40% of the blend. The result is a very complex, structured wine, beautifully perfumed in the classic Ata Rangi style.
2017 was a cooler than average vintage which is displayed in bright fruits of redcurrant, juniper and cranberry, with floral aromas of manuka flower, sandalwood, and spicy star anise. The palate is vibrant, supple and seamless due to a delicate tannin profile and fresh acidity.
In 1980, Ata Rangi founder Clive Paton made the bold decision to sell his small herd of dairy cows in order to buy 5 hectares of stony, barren sheep paddock at the edge of the small Martinborough village. His dream, inspired by a scientific soil and climate report on the suitability of Martinborough for grape-growing, was to become a world class vigneron. As a keen rugby player he had often skinned his knees on the free-draining gravels of Martinborough, so he knew very well the challenges he faced in nurturing the young vines. Clive was soon joined by his sister Alison who purchased a 2 ha adjoining paddock. Clive planted this in pinot noir while she worked in London, bolstering her knowledge of the international wine trade. Clive married in 1987, after meeting his wife Phyll in Marlborough where she’d also been working as a winemaker. Ata Rangi, thanks largely to talented and highly respected Winemaker Helen Masters, has an enviable reputation as one of the New World’s most respected Pinot Noir producers and remains proudly in family ownership. One of the pioneers of the region, Clive Paton was one of the first to plant grapes on the Martinborough Terrace in 1980 and the winery has since gone on to become a legend of the New Zealand wine industry. Home of the Gumboot clone of Pinot Noir, a cutting from the vineyards of Domaine de la Romanée Conti allegedly smuggled back into the country by an enterprising Kiwi in a pair of gumboots. In 2010 Ata Rangi was honored with the Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa award, New Zealand's equivalent of Grand Cru status and wine-maker Helen Masters consistently produces some of the countrie's finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Really pristine fruit aromas here with such pure, ripe red cherries and roses, as well as gently earthy and spicy nuances. Very fresh, precisely ripe and a pinot you can sit and just breathe in for days. The palate has a velvety layer that few others manage to find; silky at the core, succulent in the center and delivering such vibrant, red-cherry flavors in a long, pristine and fresh, red-cherry finish.
HUON HOOKE - THE REAL REVIEW
Deep red/purple colour. The bouquet is at first reserved and shy with dominant dried herb, straw-bale and undergrowth aromas. Some cherry aromas began to emerge after extended airing. The wine emerged as full-bodied and strong, with abundant tannins. There is a core of sweet fruit within. It has only just begun building the fragrant bouquet that will almost certainly emerge in time. On day two: a glorious wine had blossomed, with a wonderful complexity of deep-set dark cherries, spices and dried herbs, adding up to a beguiling fragrance. The same flavours saturate the palate which is concentrated and profound, the tannins soft and ample, the persistence long. It all adds up to a prognosis of a long and rewarding life ahead. (This wine needs air, and responds well to tasting from a large-bowl glass.)
BOB CAMPBELL MW - THE REAL REVIEW
A Kiwi classic that lives up to it s lofty reputation despite a vintage that presented challenges. Supple, accessible wine with plum, dark berry, spice, anise, dried herb, savoury and spicy oak flavours. Complex with a fine, tannic backbone balanced against restrained fruit sweetness. Perhaps not quite as much power and density as usual but still offers good potential
GARY WALSH - THE WINE FRONT
Straight off, I like this vintage. It’s kind of cool and minty, but with a rosy perfume, smoky brown spices, and something like sarsaparilla over a typical red cherry base. Tight, gently sappy, savoury and autumnal, with a distinct earthy/mineral feel, a persistent fine rasp of kitten’s tongue tannin, and a long sweet tangy orange and spice laced finish, firm stroke of tannin carrying it on. Well sophisticated. Yes.
JOE CZERWINSKI - WINE ADVOCATE
Cool, slightly minty stem notes accent bright cherry fruit in the 2017 Pinot Noir, most of which was picked before the rains, according to winemaker Helen Masters. It's crisp and medium-bodied, with silky tannins and a long, refreshing finish. It may be even longer-lived than I've suggested
James Suckling Top 100 Wines of 2019 - #70