On the nose there is a treasure trove of seductive aromas - sweet summer plums, plump black cherries, hints of coffee/chocolate and exotic spice. The texture is firm, with fine-grained yet sinewy, supple tannin supporting and balancing the characteristic Ata Rangi opulence and rich, lingering flavours. Older vintages show truffles and violets and an earthy, hedonistic, gamey complexity. Well cellared, this wine will also reward as the more savoury nuances evolve and it will undoubtedly be even more beguiling, more alluring after 4 or 5 years.
"The wine has the fruitiness of a blue-foot mushroom, a dark and savory character to balance the clean line of black cherry flavour running through it. Spice tracks that cherry fruit, a third rail to electrify the woodsy earthiness of the wine. The flavours are long, attesting to Martinborough's talents with Pinot Noir." - Wine & Spirits, Feb 2005
Ata Rangi Winery
Clive had tried his hand as a grave-digger and a milkman before finally getting lucky in his third career choice – a winemaker. Ata Rangi is a Maori word for “dawning sky” or “new beginning” which is apt considering that when Clive Paton bought the property in 1980 he had never run a vineyard or made wine in his life. Back then Clive traded the promise of a steady income for a bare, scruffy sheep paddock on the outskirts of Martinborough.
He was one of a handful of winemaking pioneers in Martinborough, then a forgotten rural settlement, who were attracted to the area by two key features - the localised, free-draining shingle terrace some 20 metres deep and the lowest rainfall records of anywhere on the North Island of New Zealand.
Today Martinborough is a thriving wine appellation with an international reputation, particularly for premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Today Ata Rangi concentrates on hand making world class wines, namely pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and their Celebre (a cabernet blend). Yields are very low, typically 2 tonnes per acre and all grapes are hand-picked. Vines are now 20 years old, a factor in the wines ascending quality. Winemaking is very traditional using small, closed fermenters with wide top manholes which allow hand plunging. 20 hectares of vines are managed from which around 80 tonnes are crushed annually.
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Situated on the southern tip of the North Island, Martinborough is just across the strait from Marlborough. Martinborough is a town, as well as a region within Wairarapa, which, in turn, is located within the region of Wellington. Just to add more confusion, Wellington is also the name of the city there, the capital of New Zealand. Sometimes the names of these three regions are interchanged, but know that all three names mean the wine has come from the bottom tip of New Zealand's North Island.
The grape making the most splash from the area is Pinot Noir. It is the region's most planted variety and the one getting the most attention. However, being that it's the neighbor of Sauvignon Blanc land, Marlborough, it uses these climate similarities to produce delicious wines from that grape as well.
The country of New Zealand is about 1000 miles from the coast of Australia. It consists of two long islands, end to end, that are approximately the same length as California. Most of the country's climate is maritime due to the abundant coastline. The northern island is warmer and wetter, while the southern island is cooler and dryer. The most popular grapes of New Zealand are Sauvignon Blanc (made most famous by the bright, crisp wines coming out of Marlborough), Chardonnay and the ever-growing Pinot Noir.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.