Bonny Doon Contra 2012

bonny-doon-contra-2012The good folks of Santa Cruz, California’s Bonny Doon Vineyard and their marketing-centric leader, Randall Grahm, evangelize the merits of traditional Rhône grape varieties. They also subscribe to a low-tech approach to winemaking, keeping the trickery to a minimum and focusing on conveying true representation of the grapes and their origins. Oh, and you may recall reading about Mr. Grahm and a BD Roussanne here at PAVC.

Pennsylvanians are again on the receiving end of the bonny benefits of Bonny Doon, thanks to a new Chairman’s Selection – the Contra red blend. Described by Grahm-isms such as “a contrarian blend of the most old-fangled grape variety,” it’s an easy-drinking, mid-voltage Cali red that’s a cracking bargain at $9.99. Whether it’s contrarian or not is debatable, but its quality can’t be contradicted.

There are contradistinguishing characteristics here. Released from under its Stelvin top, the wine is fresh and approachable from the chute – especially when slightly chilled. It harmonizes a variety of California-fueled berries, from black to rasp, with cherry, tea, licorice and cola flavors. There’s also a decidedly European alignment, a brambly element (you might even consider this a “field blend”) and good acidity, too. Along with its fruity firepower, Contra is an invigorating red that keeps its oak influence barely traceable.

The wine’s variety ratio shifts from year to year, with the 2012 receiving added heft from a more sizeable dose of Syrah. The breakdown: 56% Carignan, 17% Syrah, 9% Grenache, 11% Mourvèdre and 1% Cinsault. Part of the appeal of Contra comes from an ever-shifting makeup – you never fully pin it on a particular grape. It’s a food-ready value from the PLCB, appropriate to serve in the near- to middle-term, that will suit a range of dishes including pasta with meat sauce, turkey, burgers, pizza and more.

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