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 five hectare home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980 and, in doing so, was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Renowned for their Pinot Noir, which is consistently ranked as one of New Zealand's best, Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Ata Rangi vineyards are situated in Wairarapa, just north of Wellington. Craighall is located directly opposite the main Ata Rangi home block. The 30 year old Mendoza clone of Chardonnay vines, with their characteristic 'hen and chicken' fruit set, are always low yielding. Soils here comprise a thin layer of well-drained alluvial soil deposited on what was the original course of the river as it flowed east to the Pacific Ocean.
A fabulous summer in 2015 provided excellent conditions for ripening grapes across the country, resulting in vibrant, fruit driven wines. Yields were 27% down on the record 2014 vintage. Despite the excellent summer, the cool spring weather contributed to the marked reduction in the crop. Fruit was harvested between the 25th and 29th of March.
Hand-picked fruit was whole bunch pressed in a Willmes membrane press. Unsettled juice was fully barrel-fermented in Burgundy barriques, of which 25% was new oak, using indigenous yeasts. Fermentation took place between 15-20°C. The lees were stirred during this time in all barrels and partial malolactic fermentation occurred. The wine was aged in barrel on the lees for 12 months before bottling in July 2016.
A very alluring, restrained nose of citrus, white-flesh nectarine and citrus blossom leads onto a tight, fine palate with a subtly chalky texture. With no one, single flavour dominating, the 2015 is an intriguing, very complex and very complete Chardonnay with fabulous flow and persistence. Fully barrel fermented with 'wild' indigenous yeasts, this exceptional release has excellent cellaring potential.