A field blend that contravenes contraindicated convention, with aromas of cherries and licorice, flavorful cassis, blackberries and silky tannins.
Contra unites the earthy rusticity of old vine carignane – that hard, stoniness that if untempered may be a tad too austere for some – with the luscious, opulent fruitiness of a number of the softer blending grapes. In the wine, you’ve got rocks and raspberries (or maybe they’re mulberries or blackberries), a lively acidity, tannins that are firm but perfectly ripe, and the result is an amazing experience that is both intellectual and sensual. It is hard to really articulate why this experience is so special, but the yin and yang of soft and hard, of fruit and earth, creates the most electrifying aesthetic frisson.
Varietals: 55% carignane, 16% grenache 14% mourvèdre, 7% petite sirah 5% zinfandel, 3% syrah
2009 Contra – Wine of the Week This red wine is a blend of 55% Carignane, 15% each of Grenache and Mourvèdre and three other grapes, and offers the earthy workhorse-ness of the primary grape, the aromatics of Grenache and the deep fruit of the Mourvèdre. It’s hearty and richly fruity, and moderate in alcohol (13.5%). ~ Dan Berger, Press Democrat
Bonny Doon’s 2009 Contra, which uses as its backbone the same sort of Carignane that Randall Grahm once put into his Cigare Volant. This is old-vine fruit from obscure corners of Contra Costa County (think Phillip Garrido territory) that has long been hunted by diligent and mindful vintners. Contra gets its name from the obvious geography, and with a bit of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah in the mix, it’s a rambunctious, instantly drinkable thing… ~ Jon Bonné, San Francisco Chronicle
New, different, attitudinal are what this wine collector/drinker is all about. Go with a wine from California’s Bonny Doon Vineyard. Owner Randall Grahm is legendary in his pursuit of wines that speak of their time and place; the wine establishment be damned. Take this “contrarian blend of mostly old-fangled grape varieties,” a wine whose label does not disclose what those varieties are but claims the wine is “contrapuntal” (your wine lover will be eager to look that up). 86 pts ~ Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune
Bright ruby. Spicy red- and blackcurrant aromas, with notes of violet and black pepper adding complexity. Cassis and bitter cherry flavors pick up a smoky quality with air, along with a hint of herbs. This easy-drinking but somewhat hard-edged wine finishes with good clarity and cut. 87 pts ~ Josh Raynolds, Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar