SRP of $16 and available for as low as $12. Sample received courtesy Bonny Doon Vineyard for review purposes.
From the bottle:
“Contra is a wine that reflects the opposite of modern wine sensibilities — of wines over-worked and amped up, pushed and prodded into Procrustean palatenumbing sameness. A rebours, this wine is a contrarian blend of perhaps the most old-fangled grape variety, carignane, from several extremely old (100 year+), nongrafted, dry-farmed head-trained vineyards, located in Contra Costa County, and the puer aeternus syrah, young, vibrant, racy and peppery. Contra is a somewhat contradictory flashback/forward to the straightforward, frank wines of yester- and future-year. A field blend that contravenes contraindicated convention, with aromas of black cherry and licorice, flavorful cassis, blackberries and silky tannins. A wine (hardly) contraindicated for gastronomy, it is above all, contrapuntal.
We aspire to produce wines in a more unaffected, hands-off style, with minimum winemaking intervention or manipulation. Equally we are committed to greater transparency. To this end, we append a list of ingredients used in the production of this wine.
Ingredients: Grapes, tartaric acid and sulfur dioxide. In the winemaking process, the following were utilized: Indigenous yeast, yeast nutrients and french oak chips.
At the time of bottling, this product contained: 60ppm total SO2 and 25ppm free SO2.
You may be wondering why today, August 30th, “#CabernetDay”, I am not reviewing a Cabernet. My reason is simple. It’s kind of like when you were a kid and sometime around Mother or Father’s Day you lamented, “How come there’s no Kid’s Day??” And of course, without fail, the answer came back: “Everyday is Kid’s Day!” An insufficient answer at the time, but one that you later realized to be completely true. So Cabernet Day is kind of like that. Why does perhaps the most popular grape in the world, grown everywhere wine is made, need its own day?
So instead today (we’ll call it #ContraCabernetDay), we celebrate a grape that truly does need its own day, and also begins with the letter C: Carignan (or Carignane). True, today’s wine is not 100% Carignan, but let’s not get picky. By all accounts, this is not an easy grape to grow although in the right climate it can produce high yields. Wines made from Carignan can also be “difficult” as they can have very rough tannins and high acidity. However, as the vines age and yield lowers, those fruit flavors concentrate and balance out the tannins. In the right hands, excellent wine can be made and that is exactly the case here.
The 2010 Bonny Doon Vineyard Contra Old Vine Field Blend begins with a truly amazing aroma of deep dark fruit (plum and black cherry), lots of smoked meat and a little pepper and mint. When tasting the wine, those deep fruit flavors continue. This wine has lots of different layers — smoked meat, lots of almost jammy dark fruit, rich spice and good acidity. Add to that a really succulent and smooth texture once the wine has time to open up and you quickly realize this is fantastic stuff. Highly recommended on any day.
See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.