This afternoon marks our inaugural offer of Ata Rangi, which is not only one of the finest wines of New Zealand, but among the ‘best in class’ of any Pinot Noir below £1,000 per case. So much so that their flagship wine Ata Rangi Pinot Noir is allocated, with a powerful global brand and demand. Accolades abound Robert Parker stating that ‘The pinots have always been great, and yet even in a world where the pinot benchmark gets higher every year, Ata Rangi is better than ever.’ In his 2019 year-end report on the wines of New Zealand, James Suckling makes it abundantly clear about where the most excitement can be found, ‘Pinot noir really sets the defining tone for New Zealand’s highest quality wines’.
The 2017 vintage release has already been awarded 98 points from James Suckling, who praises it as ‘velvety,’ and ‘silky’ with a ‘long, pristine and fresh, red-cherry finish’. Priced at £240 per case of six, the value proposition for a Pinot Noir of this renown is exceptional. The wine therefore boasts a Price Over Points ratio of 27, a score which confirms its brilliant value. With only 25 cases available, this is a perennially over-subscribed wine and one Pinot Noir lovers ought snap up today.
Ata Rangi are at the very upper echelon of Pinot Noir producers, with vines which date back to 1980 planted with the illicit “Gumboot” clone, a now globally famous clone in the Martinborough region that can allegedly be traced back to a single cutting which was taken from Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and then smuggled into New Zealand in the mid-1970’s. It should come as no surprise then that the wines of Ata Rangi are unlike any other new world Pinot Noir you are likely to encounter, instead drawing more comparison to those hailing from its spiritual home on the Cote d’Or.
Indeed, it is a romantic notion that the Romanee-Conti clone become know as the Gumboot clone on account of it being hidden in a rain boot, where it was discovered by customs. The customs officer, being a wine enthusiast realised the significance of the clone, allowing it to pass, via quarantine, to the Auckland research facility. It was then that the owner Clive Paton discovered and planted this clone one in the exceptional terroir, with free draining shingle terraces. The first vintage was in 1985 and fast forward three decades and the wine has cemented itself as the pioneer great New Zealand Pinot Noir and the clone becoming know as the Ata Rangi Clone.
The Ata Rangi vineyards are located on the southern end of the North Island, which notably receives less rainfall than any other region on the Island. The Martinborough Pinot Noir is the flagship wine of Ata Rangi, with the fabled “gumboot” clone planted on their oldest vineyards making up to 40% of the blend. 2017 was considered a cooler than average vintage in New Zealand which has resulted in wines which rely on tension and elegance, rather than sheer weight and power.
The very narrative of this great wine is one of synthesising the best of the Old World in the New world and this comes through in the wine. The Name Ata Rangi means new beginning and the Romanee Conti clone has found that in new soils, where it has thrived and delivered as it has in the village of Vosne, a wine of elegance and power, painting a new masterpiece on the canvas of this truly magnificent grape. One seldomly discovers this depth, purity of fruit and minerality outside of the Cote d’Or and it is for this reason that demand greatly exceeds supply.