－7－From top left: ① Blair Walter (Winemaker, Felton Road) ② “Ginza” the cat at Felton Road ③ Paul Donaldson (General Manager, Pegasus Bay) ④ Pegasus Bay garden ⑤ Ata Rangi cellar door. From bottom left: ⑥ Mountford Estate ⑦ Martinborough Fair.◆ 4: Martinborough (Wairarapa)Our final destination was Martinborough. The day we were in town coincided with the ‘Martinborough Fair’ which is held twice a year, and the whole town was very lively. When we walked through the center of town the previous evening it was very quiet, but the next morning the shops were all buzzing. There were many Maori handmade crafts, accessories, jade products and more on show, which were intriguing. We quickly walked through the fair to our first destination, Ata Rangi. Before the tasting, we toured the vineyard, hearing about the origins of DRC Abel clone while we were in the Pinot Noir vineyard ̶ propagated from a single cutting taken from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy and smuggled into New Zealand in the mid-1970’s hidden inside a gumboot, but discovered by a customs officer named Malcolm Abel. Mr. Abel, being a wine enthusiast himself, realized the significance of the cutting and took it (via quarantine) to the viticulture research center, and eventually planted his own vineyard from the clone in Auckland. The dark colour of the fruit with skins so thick that I couldn’t easily bite through them, left a strong impression on me. Ata Rangi Pinot Noir has a storied reputation, but they also grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. These varieties are used in ‘Celebre’ and ‘Rosé’ blends, and they make a single varietal Syrah as well. In an interesting trial in the Syrah vineyard, the soil under the rows is sprinkled with what looked like fine glass to help promote ripening by reflecting the heat. After touring the vineyards, we enjoyed a tasting. The 2018 Crimson Pinot Noir 2018 is made from fruit from young vines, and this vintage gave a fresh impression. We then tasted the 2017 Pinot Noir which was 35% whole-bunch fermented, and uses 30% new barrels. The summer of 2017 was cool, so the finish is more elegant than usual. The McCrone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 has a masculine taste with a smooth opening and strong lingering finish. Common to all wines are a woody, oriental aroma of sandalwood that lingers on the nose after drinking. It was a distinct aroma I didn’t find with other wineries, and gives Ata Rangi wines a unique character. At the last winery, Palliser Estate, we enjoyed a casual tasting at a large counter, and you could also match wines with lunch just like Pegasus Bay. After tasting some wine at the counter, we were guided to the winery with a glass in hand. The winery is certified as sustainable, and is currently in the process of transitioning to organic certification. The presence of a beehive box on the premises shows the close coexistence and harmony with nature. The winery is bright and clean, and all the stock is in barrels. They don’t have a bottling facility, as all wineries in Martinborough use a central bottling facility in the center of the town. In the underground cellar, in addition to Palliser's vintage wines, there are stocks of wines from premium producers such as Pegasus Bay, which all the staff enjoy on special occasions. After the tour, though we didn’t have a reservation, we decided to have a late lunch at the Palliser restaurant. The 3-beat of beautiful, healthy and delicious food was very special. While this delicious food can always stand on its own, I especially enjoyed the pairings of the courses with Palliser wines.◆ Wrap-up: Visiting wineries in New Zealand Advance reservations are required to visit the cellar doors of all the Village Cellars wineries that we went to. I made reservations on the website of each winery. We arranged cars and drivers in advance in Central Otago and Waipara Valley which can only be reached by car. To get to Martinborough we took a train from Wellington to Featherston Station, then a bus. However, please note there are only two connecting buses per day. Martinborough is small and it is easy to walk around the town. Traveling to and from major airports in New Zealand is cheap and easy using the shared shuttle app. Immediately after returning from this trip, immigration regulations were put into place in New Zealand to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 (March 20th). I can't help but hope that this turmoil will settle as soon as possible and that everyone will be free to travel again, and enjoy the warm hospitality of the people we met in New Zealand just like we did.Ata RangiCelebre 2015 (screw cap)Origin: Martinborough, New ZealandVarietals: Merlot 48%, Syrah 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 12%, Malbec 6%, Cabernet Franc 4% Alc. 13.6%RRP ￥5,300Autumn in 2015 was stunning, with cool nights and ne bright days enabling a long hang time for late ripening red varietals to gain concentration and deep, ripe tannins with good acid balance. Intense aromas of ripe blackberry and black plum with notes of dark raspberries, Asian spices, black pepper and minerals, with ripe, black fruit on the palate.Koyama Pearson’s VineyardPinot Noir 2016 (screw cap)Origin: Waipara Valley, North Canterbury, New ZealandVariety: Pinot NoirAlc. 13.3%RRP ￥5,600The 2016 growing season was nicely balanced, with no severe frost, a pleasantly dry summer and long autumn. It resulted in an abundance of good quality grapes and lower alcohol than normal vintages. Aged for 16 months in old French oak, it shows aromas of fresh cherries and plums, with good acid and rich fruit avours on the palate.CODE10854CODE11038For wine information, please see www.village-cellars.co.jp.