“Stunning! Smoky cherries open up to a sensory world of berries and spices. So lovely.”  (www.NatalieMacLean.com)

Many wine producers use crazy and colourful labels to distract you from what’s going on inside the bottle. Today, I am pleased to introduce you to a wine that delivers on both fronts – a fun label adorning a bottle of fabulous Pinot Noir.

Central Otago, in New Zealand, is one of the hottest, trendiest and most fashionable wine regions you’ll find anywhere in the world today. Like many other parts of New Zealand, this region crafts tasty Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, but the place where they’ve really made their mark is with Pinot Noir.

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to a brand new release – the 2009 Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir.

Tune into the video edition of our Wine of the Week:

While remaining true to a classic sense of what Pinot Noir should be (in my humble opinion, anyways), Central Otago Pinot Noir has carved out a unique niche, or terroir, that you won’t find it the classic reds of Burgundy. There is a certain juicy freshness to the Pinots of Central Otago that has captured the imagination of wine drinkers around the world.

If you haven’t experienced a delicious Pinot Noir from Central Otago for yourself, this is a great place to start. If, on the other hand, you are already aware of how great these wines can be, then you’ll be particularly appreciative of the amazing price of this new release. Many Pinots from this part of New Zealand regularly sell for double or triple the price of the 2009 Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir. Either way, this is a wine I know you’ll enjoy!

Click Here to find this wine at an LCBO Vintaes shop near you.

Three things to know about how the grapes for this wine were grown: 

#1:  Central Otago Pinot Noirs are becoming world famous as brilliant examples of the potential of the elusive perfumed Pinot Noir grape when grown in areas of complementary terroir. Like Burgundy – cool climate, inland sites are required, close to the 45th parallel to ensure a long slow ripening period.

#2:  Crop yields are kept very low. Simply stated: Fewer bunches of grapes per vine = more flavour and better quality grapes. Pinot Noir quality is very yield sensitive and Central Otago Pinot Noirs are no exception to that rule.

#3:  Central Otago is the only part of New Zealand that experiences a Continental Climate. Harsh winters and very low rainfall keep pests and diseases to a minimum, the very warm summers enable good canopy development and long autumns have warm days and cool nights which enable slow and complex phenolic and flavour development during the ripening period.

Three things to know about how this wine was made:

#1:  This wine is a second label of Chard Farm, one of the pioneers of the Central Otago region of New Zealand. The Pinot Noirs of Central Otago are some of the hottest wines in the world these days, many selling for double or triple the price of this $25 introduction.

#2:  Pinot Noir represents 70% of the total production at this winery. Good things happen when you focus on doing one thing really, really well. Not only is the terroir of Central Otago perfectly suited to growing great Pinot Noir, but with relentless focus comes the kind of expertise that yields exciting and delicious wines.

#3:  This wine is very lightly oaked and handled gently, allowing the fine structure and lively fruit flavours to take centre stage. The Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir is made in a very soft, fruit forward, low tannin style – a wine to be savoured and supped, rather than an assault on the senses.

Tasting Notes:

“Stunning! Smoky cherries open up to a sensory world of berries and spices. So lovely. Medium-bodied and silky smooth. Food matches: coq au vin”

91/100 Points – www.NatalieMacLean.com 

“The Central Otago region has proven ideal for Pinot Noir. Its cool climate provides the long, slow ripening period so critical to growing this mercurial, tough-to-perfect grape variety. This wine — whimsically named to honour the local rabbit population — makes for a delicious introduction to New Zealand Pinot. Silky-textured, with ripe red fruit and a lovely smokiness, it would make a terrific match for coq au vin.”


Food Pairings:

Pinot Noir is one of my favourite red wines to enjoy at the table. One of the most versatile red wines you can find, Pinot Noir is a great pairing with salmon, chicken, pork and even finer cuts of beef. My favourite place to enjoy Pinot Noir however, is next to a selection of mild to medium flavoured softer cheeses. The crushed red fruit flavours are deliciously refreshing next to classic french cheeses, like Brillat Savarin.

Andrew Hanna is a third generation wine importer and Director of Sales & Marketing at John Hanna & Sons Ltd., one of Canada’s oldest independent wine merchants. He spends his days scouring the earth for handcrafted wines that tell a story about the people and places in each bottle, while sharing these delicious discoveries with wine lovers across Canada.


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