Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Like visiting a friend

Martinborough, New Zealand is one of the only places in the world outside of Burgundy that makes Pinot Noir worth drinking. Ata Rangi is my favorite. The nose shows real terroir, a dusty, fruity, freshness and a little stinky--kind of like the sheep that cover the landscape.
Its not Burgundy and its not trying to be. The fruit is ripe. Not over ripe though. It's juicy, not over extracted and not stewed. Instead, it is a bright red, with great acidity and a long finish across the entire palate. And it's in that finish, that the minerality and slight funk (the terroir), return and finish each sip with a sense of place.

In January of 2001, Nina & I went to New Zealand for a few months of adventure and a journey through the different Kiwi wine regions. By mid-March, we hit the south end of the North Island and in Martinborough, scored a couple weeks work at Ata Rangi. We plucked leaves to let in the sun, pulled fencing staples, ran irrigation lines and all sorts of other farm labor. We were just happy to be in such a great place and be outside in the warm sun in March. So naturally, I have a bias toward this wine. Clive Patton, the owner and wine maker at Ata Rangi was fantastic to us. He went out of his way to spend time with us, talking about the growing and wine making process - over a beer or two of course. The 01 is our vintage. We sweat on those grapes-maybe that's what some of the funk is in the nose??? A sniff, a sip, takes us right back to that beautiful land on the other side of the planet.