I loved the Ata Rangi Crimson 2011 – I feel good about supporting the environment, sustainable wine growing and enjoying a terrific wine all at the same time. Clive Paton didn’t adopt the cause of the environment and sustainability because it was trendy or a good marketing strategy, its in his DNA and he is passionate about leaving the planet in a better state for the coming generations.
When I meet Clive at Martinborough, it was clear that this quietly spoken man lets his actions do the talking. He has implemented a wide range of sustainable practices in his vineyards. One area which resonated with me was in the use of untreated sustainably grown posts in the vineyard. When I first established my own vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula in Australia, I opted to reduce the number of treated pine posts to a minimum by largely using steel posts. Clive has taken it a lot further down a more ecologically sound path by establishing his own forest source of 10,000 ground-durable Eucalypts to supply untreated vineyard posts for Ata Rangi future needs.
Clive is also actively involved with the restoration and protection of New Zealand’s iconic red-flowering Christmas trees: native RATA and Pohutukawa which led to a close association with Project Crimson, and was the inspiration for their younger vines Pinot Noir, called simply “Crimson”. Project Crimson Vision is: “To enable pohutukawa and rata to flourish again in their natural habitats as icons in the hearts and minds of all New Zealanders.” A significant portion of the proceeds from the sale of Crimson Pinot Noir helps to fund this trust. When you see these magnificent trees in their natural habitat, such is shown in the above image, you really appreciate the value of Project Crimsons work.
Now to the wine – despite being sourced from younger vines this pinot noir is a pinot noir of substance: good depth, texture and character. On initial tasting, it was a little unbalance and the acid was somewhat dominant but I especially liked it after it had a good opportunity to breath, gaining in savoury characters, balance, complexity and interest. A medium bodied wine with ample fruit – black cherry, raspberry and red currents with herbal and spice notes. Great value and worth cellaring for several years.