96 points, Bob Campbell MW - Ranked: #1 of 30 2018 Pinot Noir from Martinborough
Ata Rangi’s Pinot Noir 2018 is elegant and aromatic with bright, high-energy floral and violet, cherry, fresh herb, star anise, roasted chestnut and restrained spicy oak supported by fine tannins and juicy acidity. An attractively fragrant, supple wine that is a little lighter than usual but gives a nod in the direction of Burgundy and shows promising ageing potential. Awarded: Top Rank
Only the oldest and best parcels of fruit are used in this limited release Pinot Noir. The fabled Abel clone, allegedly smuggled from Burgundy in the mid-70s, makes up 40% of the blend and gives a complex, beautifully perfumed and structured wine.
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, home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980, in doing so, he was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Ata Rangi's first vineyard covered less than five hectares on deep, free-draining alluvial gravels, the original course of a local river which flows from the hills that flank the eastern side of the valley. In 2012, Clive, who is also an avid conservationist, was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contribution to both viticulture and conservation in New Zealand. In January 2019, Helen was awarded 2019 New Zealand Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine, a superb recognition of her 16 years’ work at Ata Rangi.
Ata Rangi is renowned for its Pinot Noir and is widely regarded as New Zealand's top Pinot Noir producer. They have been awarded Five Stars in the '2013 Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification' by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer for the gold medal standard of their recent vintages. At the 2010 International Pinot Noir Conference, Ata Rangi Pinot Noir was given the title of 'Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa' (which translates from Maori as 'Great Growth of New Zealand' or 'Grand Cru'), in recognition of their unique site and of the family's commitment to evolving and developing New Zealand Pinot Noir. The oldest Pinot Noir vines, which include a clone allegedly smuggled from Burgundy, were planted in 1980.
The ‘McCrone Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, from vines planted in 2001 using a mix of clones, is situated just around the corner from Ata Rangi’s home block. Its remarkably different soil composition, with a compact seam of clay, produces a silkier wine than the textural style of the Martinborough Pinot Noir. The winemaking is exactly the same as for the fabled Ata Rangi Pinot Noir, so it is fascinating to see two distinct, site-specific expressions of this wonderful grape.