Budget buys from top makers

Image: Bob Campbell MW (Photo: )

Ata Rangi is one of my favourite pinot noir makers. I taste and buy their iconic, age-worthy pinot noir at every opportunity. However, it is easy to get dazzled by their highly-demanded flagship pinot noir and to overlook their second label wine, which in my view outstrips many more expensive pinot noirs from other highly-regarded producers.

The 2016 Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir is less than half the price of the flagship but it certainly isn’t half the quality. The quality gap is slightly narrowed now because Crimson is more accessible than the top label, which past vintages clearly demonstrate has the capacity to age magnificently. It is arguably a better buy now if you are seeking a top pinot noir for current drinking.

Top winemakers try harder. I recall visiting Château Haut-Brion during an MW trip to Bordeaux some years ago. We were presented with seven anonymous glasses of red wine and told that they were the worst wines made by Haut-Brion in the past 50 years. All except the 1977 vintage were terrific. One bad wine in 50 years is not a bad record.

Greystone, another favourite pinot noir maker, have just released a new label that is, by price at least, a third label and about one-third of the price of their NZD $95 flagship the 2015 Greystone Thomas Brothers Pinot Noir. The 2015 Greystone Nor’Wester Pinot Noir, an NZD $33 wine, punches well above its weight and is highly recommended if you are looking for a price-friendly pinot.

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