To produce the Pinot Gris “Lismore” Martinborough Ata Rangi, the fruit was hand picked and whole bunch pressed in a Willmes membrane press. The resulting juice was then cold settled, inoculated with yeast and fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks at temperatures of 14-18°C. 20% of the wine was fermented in three year old 500-litre oak puncheons to deliver extra weight and complexity to the final blend. In both cases, the wine was left on lees for several months. No malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place to retain a crisp, balancing acidity.
The Pinot Gris grapes come from the Lismore, Walnut Ridge and Hamden vineyards, which achieve their optimum flavour profile towards the end of the growing season. As a result, the team harvests this varietal fairly late to obtain a wine closer to the richer style of Pinot Gris produced in Alsace, rather than the leaner, bone-dry style of Pinot Grigio common in much of northern Italy. The vines were planted in 1996.
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.