This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Monday, Apr. 9, 2007 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070409.php.
But such an excess of caution wouldn't be wise, considering that a hard-core "no animals" approach would rule out such treasures as Chateau Cheval Blanc, California's excellent Stag's Leap, and Piemonte's pricey La Spinetta red wines with the rhinoceros label.
Now add another tasty treat to the approved animals list: From my pal and one-time Rhone Valley traveling companion Erich Russell at Rabbit Ridge in Central California's Paso Robles comes a special seasonal red, just in time for Easter: Rabbit Ridge "Bunny Cuvee," a hearty drop that Russell bills as "a lush red blend created and bottled once every spring, in limited quantities, to celebrate the Bunny's favorite time of the year."
I might have guessed Zinfandel from its exuberant, fruit-forward berry aromas and flavors and its blockbusterish 14.9% alcohol level, but it's actually a wild blend of varied red grapes that are rarely found in the same glass - about 60 percent of the Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc with about 40 percent Petite Sirah - a non-vintage blend of 2004 and 2005 grapes aged in new oak barrels.
Lovers of austere, earthy European wines might want to steer clear, but if you like a big but balanced California red in the older style, this is an honest wine with real character.
The Rabbit Ridge Website indicates that this wine is available only to winery club members, but for what it's worth, I found it on retail sale in Louisville for a penny under the $12 suggested winery price, so with a little sleuthing (and asking about it at local shops that carry Rabbit Ridge wines), you might be able to find it in your neck of the woods, too.
Rabbit Ridge Paso Robles "Bunny Cuvee" Red Wine ($11.99)
This is a very dark reddish-purple wine. A burst of ripe berry fruit and a whiff of vanilla leap out of the glass. Big and ripe in flavor, a mouth full of berries mirror the nose. Fruit-forward and full, oak is present but doesn't dominate, and its hefty alcohol content makes it warm but not incendiary. (April 8, 2007)
FOOD MATCH: It worked nicely with a range of dishes on a casual Easter buffet, from sliced ham and Italian-style gardiniera to a variety of pizzas. Hold the hard-boiled eggs.
VALUE: No complaints at all about this low-teens price point.
WHEN TO DRINK: The winery Website indicates that this wine, bottled Nov. 7, 2006, "should age well for a long time." Based on its varietal content and its balance, I would agree. Certainly five years in a quality cellar would do it no harm.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
The California Wine Club Wine Sale Extended!
More than 100 wines, each one guaranteed. Browse our online Wine Store and choose from award-winning wines hand selected from California's best artisan wineries. Take an extra 20 percent off wines in our upper-level club, Signature Series, and International Selections too. Visit www.cawineclub.com or call 1-800-777-4443.
Prices as low as $8.40/bottle, F.O.B. Camarillo, CA.
Sale ends April 10. Half, full and mixed cases okay.
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Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Another year, another REDS (Apr. 6, 2006)
Winery does well by doing good (Apr. 4, 2006)
Touring Lombardy (Apr. 2, 2006)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Verdure (Apr. 5, 2006)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive: