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Wine of the Week for week ending 6 Nov 2005
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Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2004
Martinborough, New Zealand

When our Project Crimson newsletter, "True Colours', arrived in the snail mail the other day, I saw the new Crimson wine that they are selling in aid of the cause.

'That's an attractive looking label,' I thought. Now I've tasted the wine as well and it is not only the packaging that is attractive. The wine inside the bottle is too.

It is a pinot noir from Martinborough made by one of the country's top producers, Ata Rangi - and you can taste the hand of experience.

It is made from young vine pinot noir vines (less than 10 years of age) yet has a gorgeously silky texture that is a hallmark trait of Ata Rangi's top tier pinot. With a distinctive earthiness that comes from the Martinborough region, subtle French oak, maraschino and morello cherry fruit and a clean savoury finish with a long cherryish aftertaste - all bound together in a medium-bodied package - it is drinking beautifully already. And at $28 a bottle, it really is a steal and being sealed with a screwcap - a bright red (crimson) screwcap of course, you can be sure the wine will taste as it is meant to.

With eight pohutukawa trees on our property and we are supporters of Project Crimson, a charitable conservation trust. Their mission is to see even more of the tenacious iron-hearted pohutukawa and rata trees planted and protected. These trees can grow for a 1,000 years.

Project Crimson initially focussed only on the pohutukawa (Metrosiderosis excelsa), often called New Zealand's Christmas Tree because its bright crimson blooms are in full flower at Christmas time. These trees grow in the upper half of the North Island and used to be abundant on the coastline. In 1996, Project Crimson added close relatives, the Northern, Southern and Bartlett's rata to its mandate. These are considered the most at-risk Metrosideros species - the risks being mostly possums and people.

Ata Rangi became interested in supporting Project Crimson because of Clive's love of trees, and particularly his love for rata and pohutukawa. As Martinborough is too far south for the pohutukawa, Clive's passion turned to conservation of the rata. He now owns a 45 hectare block containing numerous rata trees, high above the bush block which borders the Haurangi Forest Park (south of Martinborough township). He has called it 'Rata Ridge' and has fully fenced it to stop sheep and cattle from grazing the bush. It has been further protected by a Department of Conservation covenant against it ever being grazed or felled.

Ata Rangi's mission statement is "to enable pohutukawa and rata to flourish again in their natural habitat as icons in the hearts and minds of all New Zealanders," and so a percentage of the sale of each bottle of Crimson goes to the Project Crimson charitable trust. But if you buy a bottle of Crimson, you won’t only be supporting a good cause but you will also be buying a fantastic wine. And with the beautiful artwork by Auckland artist Philippa Bentley, this wine will also make a beautiful gift this Christmas.

Dial up the Project Crimson website to find out more about this charitable trust and go to the Ata Rangi website to read more of the Ata Rangi story of Project Crimson - and of course to buy the wine, because at this stage Crimson is only available on mail order.

© Sue Courtney
30 October 2005

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