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Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2017

Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2017

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"The 2017 Craighall Chardonnay looks to be considerably crisper and more tightly structured than the rather plush 2016 version I drank the night before while dining at the Martinborough Hotel. Notes of toasted grain frame bright citrusy fruit in this medium-bodied wine, which shows ample length and focus on the finish. Drink: 2020-2026. 91 points

Just days before my visit, Helen Masters was named New Zealand Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller Wine, which just shows I'm not alone in my admiration for her remarkable achievements at Ata Rangi. While Pinot Noir is the unchallenged focus here, Masters excels with the other varieties as well, consistently turning out an innovative Sauvignon Blanc (there's a skin-contact component for added texture); a mouth-filling Pinot Gris; a crisp, aged Riesling; and terrific Chardonnay. With founder Clive Paton, we tasted through mini verticals of the estate and McCrone Vineyard Pinot Noirs from 2013 - 2017. They're planted to similar clones, but there's a clay lens running through the McCrone Vineyard, which mitigates hydric stress and should (in theory) lead to smoother tannins. As the estate vines are older, that's another item to factor into the differences between the two bottlings. I generally had a slight preference for the estate Pinot Noir, although both were excellent in this stretch of vintages and faithfully reflect the vintage conditions."

Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate (241)