The grapes to produce the Pinot Noir “McCrone Vineyard” Ata Rangi were hand-picked and underwent four to six days pre-fermentation maceration, 45% of which was whole bunch. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts peaked at 32°C and continued for up to 20 days until pressing. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel and spent 11 months in low-toast French oak barriques, of which 35% was new.
Visionary grape-growers Don and Carole McCrone own a four hectare Pinot Noir vineyard in Yamhill, Oregon. Ata Rangi owners Clive and Phyll Paton first met them at the International Pinot Celebration in Oregon in 1996. Don and Carole confided that they’d dreamt of replicating the single vineyard concept in the southern hemisphere. With the McCrones quickly becoming firm friends of the Ata Rangi family – and the whole team’s enthusiasm for the project – Don and Carole found and eventually purchased an ideal four hectare block on the stony, free-draining Martinborough Terrace, just across the road from Ata Rangi to the east of the home block. In 2001 Clive chose what he believed to be the most suitable clones for premium Pinot Noir to plant on this site; Ata Rangi Abel clone, naturally, plus Dijon selections (115 and 777) and Clone 5, with optimal trellising and recommended vine spacings for low yields and top quality. A compact seam of clay, 800mm deep, gives this vineyard’s soils a unique water-holding ability and has a cooling effect on the roots.
Ata Rangi, meaning ‘dawn sky, new beginning’ is owned and managed by a family trio – Clive Paton, his wife Phyll and his sister Alison. 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. Joined by winemaker Helen Masters, Ata Rangi is renowned for their Pinot Noir, which is consistently ranked as one of New Zealand’s best and in 2010 was awarded the ‘Tipuranga Teitei O Aotearoa,’ New Zealand’s ‘Grand Cru’ equivalent. Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines including Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.