Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rabbits, Breezes & Rigamaroles

I'm falling behind again on my postings. Either I'm too excited about the prospect of blogging and adding more wines to The List or, just maybe, we drink a lot. Nah, must be the excitement of blogging. Regardless, I'm going to pull another catch-up posting and put a series of nights at home in one entry. Nothing overly exciting about the evenings, the food or even the company (not that Boo isn't exciting company enough - but we were watching TV as well). But you do get three for the price of one:

103. 2005 Rock Rabbit Sauvignon Blanc (Central Coast - California)

Apparently inspired by their friends "down under" (at least according to their web site), the folks at Rock Rabbit have come out with their own "critter" wine. However, I think the inspiration was supposed to come more from the style of wine more than the colourful labels and names.

Rock Rabbit only produces two wines - a Shiraz and this Sauvignon Blanc. Styled on the renowned New Zealand sauv blancs, this winsome bunny is supposedly "everything that California Chardonnay is not." Sourced from vineyards in the cooler (for California) Central Valley around Monterey and Santa Barbara, it's Pinot Gris with a 9% splash of Gewurztraminer to heighten the aromatics of the wine. I don't think I'm familiar with that addition.

104. 2004 Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Merlot (VQA - Okanagan)

Couldn't an awful lot on the net about this particular bottle - although I did see that it won a bronze medal at the 2007 all-Canadian Wine Championships.

Lake Breeze is one of the longer standing wineries on the Naramata Bench; however, their production is still on the smaller scale, producing about 9,000 cases a year total. The Seven Poplars range is their premium level of wines. The winery started out probably being better known for their white wines (and for the fact that their South African founder planted some Pinotage vines to bring a little bit of his Cape home with him), but they are expanding into the red varietals more as the years pass.

The winery has 17 acres under operation but I couldn't find out if all of the grapes for the Merlot were estate-grown.

105. 2007 Rigamarole Red (VQA - Okanagan)

Launched as part of the Artisan Wine Company portfolio, Rigamarole is one of the labels produced under the Mission Hill umbrella. Introduced as a different approach at reaching the wine-drinking public, this line is based perhaps as much on the eye-catching label marketing as on the promotion of the wine itself. Bottled with a variety of labels for each of the four wines produced, our Red featured the "dancing rhino."

I don't know if this qualifies it as yet another entry into the "critter wine" category, but the labels certainly are intriguing. No doubt the concept is get Joe Public to buy the first bottle because of the label and hope that the product convinces him to buy another bottle (maybe the one with the elephant eating soup next time).

The wine is a rather unique blend of Merlot, Cab, Gamay and Pinot Noir and, marketing effort or not, it does carry VQA certification. There are certainly less enjoyable wines in the demographic out there. I'll likely go back looking for the elephant at some point.

We don't tend to drink a lot of Lake Breeze's wines on a regular basis, but I think both Boo and I liked the Merlot the best out of the three wines on this post. I guess it's not too out of line then that it clocked in at the highest price point. The current vintage lists at $25. The Rigamarole was under $15 which brings it more in line with a Tuesday night wine - at least for us.

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