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Featured Reviews

Ata Rangi Martinborough 2015 ‘Celebre’ and 2016 Pinot Noir

01 June,2018

Clive Paton was one of the pioneers in Martinborough, planting vines in 1980 to make wine similar to what he had enjoyed during his adult life. As with the others new to the district, he planted a melange of varieties guided by the scientific findings of Derek Milne at the time as to what would be suitable. Clive’s first meagre crops of 1983 and 1985 were in reality insufficient to think about commercialising the wine, which was of unknown quality. 1986 saw wine deemed of quantity and quality to try to sell, with the help of his sister Alison who also owned vineyard land, and his new life partner Phyll. The first red wines were a varietal Pinot Noir (with a little Cabernet Sauvignon in it), actually made in 1985, along with a blended red of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a little Syrah, ‘Super-Siebel’ and Malbec. This latter wine was named ‘Celebre’, and the style harked back to that of some delicious Italian reds that Clive in particular favoured. The first vintage was the 1986.

Nowadays, Ata Rangi’s Pinot Noir and ‘Celebre’ are the company’s primary red wines (with the occasional Syrah, and a single vineyard Pinot Noir bottled separately). The performance of the vines and the wines, particularly over the cold Mount Pinatubo affected vintages of 1992 and 1993 saw the Pinot Noir take the lead. However it was the style and quality of the wine in relationship to top-class Burgundy that saw an incredible global interest in the Ata Rangi Pinot Noir. Winning high profile competition awards certainly aided in its recognition. Without any doubt, it is one of this country’s best red wines. I’ve always rated it among my best Pinot Noirs every year.

Interestingly, the wine that is closest to Clive Paton’s heart is the ‘Celebre’. He loves the more robust and mouthfilling nature of the wine and country feel about it. The wine has also continued to evolve over time to show more finesse and balance. I’ve attended vertical tastings of ‘Celebre’ that confirm it has excellent longevity. Clive and winemaker Helen Masters take great care to preserve the style as originally intended, as a hearty and interesting red to go well with a variety of food. Clive reports that the wine will be an interesting one to develop in style over the next 20 years! Here, I review the latest bottlings, the 2015 ‘Celebre’, possibly one of the best I’ve tasted, and the 2016 Pinot Noir, a great follow-on to the magnificent 2015, this showing the Abel clone influence strongly for me.


Ata Rangi ‘Celebre’ Martinborough 2015

Blended Red from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Very dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim with slight purple hues. The nose is well-proportioned with deeply concentrated and intense aromas of ripe blackberry and black plum fruit melded with notes of dark raspberries entwined with Asian spices, black pepper and minerals, unfolding a fine blackcurrant, cassis and herbal edge, with dark-red floral elements emerging with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate is packed with concentrated and deep flavours of ripe blackberries, dark raspberries and plums, with notes of black pepper, Asian spices, liquorice, currants and herbs. The fruit is sweetly rich and supported by considerable fine-grained tannin structure with a line of lacy acidity providing tension and drive. The flavours blossom with spices and florals as the wine carries to a long, lingering finish. This is a fine and firmly concentrated Merlot/Syrah/Cabernet blend with blackberry, plum, spice and peppery fruit flavours on a palate with plenty of fine-grained structure. Match with lamb, beef, venison, and semi-hard cheeses over the next 8+ years. A blend of 48% Merlot, 30% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Franc, from the ‘Ata Rangi’, ‘Craighall’, ‘Kahu’, Di Mattina’, ‘Champ Ali’ and ‘Hau Ariki’ vineyards on the Martinborough Terrace, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 22% new oak, then given a further 12 months in neutral oak. 19.0-/20 May 2018 RRP $40.00

Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Moderately deep ruby-red colour, lighter on the rim with purple hues. The nose is elegantly proportioned with taut and tightly bound aromas of ripe black cherry and black berried fruits entwined with savoury dark herbs, revealing complexing nuances of undergrowth and minerals, unveiling some whole bunch stalk perfumes. This has refined and serious detail. Medium-bodied, the palate has rich, sweet and succulently vibrant flavours of black cherries and black berried fruits melded with savoury dark herbs, complex whole bunch stalk elements, unfolding subtle notes of violet florals and minerals. The fruit possesses great vitality and energy, and is supported by plenty of fine-grained, flowery tannin extraction, with gently refreshing, lacy acidity. The palate has wonderful concentration and linearity and the wine carries with real drive to a very long and sustained finish of black fruits, savoury dark herbs and whole bunch nuances. This is a superbly concentrated Pinot Noir possessing flavours of Abel clone influenced black fruits, savoury dark herbs and complex whole bunch notes on a refined and well-structured palate with immense vitality. Match with slow-cooked game meat dishes over the next 8-10+ years. A blend of clones, approx. 40% Abel, with 5, Dijon clones and 10/5 from the company’s oldest vines, indigenous yeast fermented with 30% whole clusters to 13.0% alc., the wine spending 20-26 days on skins and aged 11 months in 35% new French oak, blended, and then held for a further 6 months. 19.5/20 Jun 2018 RRP $75.00

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