Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2016
#100 Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2019
Over the past 30 years of Ata Rangi Pinot Noir releases, the wine has developed a strong reputation for a particular savouriness of style which reflects our grapes, sites and climate. The 2016 year typifies this style – a complex set of aromas and flavors which ripple over each other: juniper, cranberry, manuka flower, sandalwood, a hint of gingerbread and classic sweet hay. On the palate, flavors spread from warm spice to Campari, with a savory seam that hints at ramen broth. The entry is vibrant and compelling with a rush of tannin that sweeps the flavors right through the palate. While this release will reward from cellaring, it is also highly satisfying to drink now.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Like many of this renowned producer's wines, this is a bottle to take your time with. It changes with every pour, from bright cranberry and raspberry fruit to licorice; from dried roses and violets to sandalwood and savory spice. The palate is medium bodied and silky textured, with tightly wound, leathery tannins and fruit that feels like you could take a bite out of it. Through it all is Ata Rangi's signature mineral streak. For all its appeal, however, this wine is still a baby, elegant and complex but austere. Drink through 2028.
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.
Part of the Wairarapa region in the southern end of the country’s North Island, Martinborough is a bucolic appellation full of artisan, lifestyle wine producers. Above all else, their goals are to tend vineyards for low yields and create wines of supreme quality. Pinot noir is the main grape variety here, occupying over half of the land under vine.
Comparing topography, climate and soils, the region is nearly identical to Marlborough except that it produces top quality reds on the regular.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”