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 Celebre 2014
The Ata Rangi vineyards are situated in Wairarapa, just northeast of Wellington. The grapes are planted on well-drained alluvial soil deposited on what was the original course of the river as it flowed to the Pacific Ocean. The grapes used for this wine come from the Ata Rangi Martinborough home block. These vineyards deliver both the quality and quantity in all varieties to make this outstanding Célèbre.
2013 impressed as the vintage of the decade. Warm summer temperatures, peaking at 28°C, lay the foundation, followed by cool nights through the long drawn-out autumn. This has resulted in a season where the Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah have all delivered on their true classic varietal expression; the low natural yields of these varieties allowing for harvesting at perfect ripeness before late autumn rains.
Pre-fermentation maceration lasted for four to six days. An oxidative splash racking took place during fermentation. Fermentation temperatures reached 33°C and maceration on the skins lasted for 21 days before pressing. Complete malolactic fermentation took place in 25% new French oak barrels. The wine was then aged for 17 months in barriques which were 20% new oak, before it was bottled.
The heady, perfumed aromas of star anise, red plums, with notes of woody cinnamon and dried herbs, are exotic and beguiling. The entry is dense, then finely textured in the mid-palate, with a long mineral quality. A concentration of fruit wraps itself around the tannins, leading to an exhilarating finish. An exceptional season has delivered a compelling, age-worthy wine of wonderful tension – a fitting result for release in Ata Rangi’s 35th year of work on the land.