The 2011 Bonny Doon Contra is a blend of 56% Carignane, 28% Mourvedre, 9% Grenache, 6% Syrah and 1% Zinfandel sourced mainly (85%) from two 100+ year old vineyards located in Contra Costa County (suburbs of San Francisco) along with grapes from Arroyo Seco, San Luis Obispo, Monterey County and Santa Maria inside California’s Central Coast. This wine is a Rhone Blend (using grapes approved for use in the Rhone Valley in France, except the Zinfandel ) and is a homage to the Field Blends of the past. You do not see to many real Field Blends anymore, they were created when a vineyards planted several grape varietals in one plot of the vineyard. They picked all the grapes together, when they were all as close to ripe as different varieties can be and crushed the grapes and fermented them as one. The blend was whatever is the yield of the individual vines and if all the grapes were at their peak, you got a great wine and if some were too ripe or not ripe enough you got a not so good wine. Today Field Blend grapes are grown separately, sometimes in different vineyards, in different AVA’s, the bad vintages occurred too often the old way, but the spirit of the blend still survives. With the Contra, all the different varietals were fermented and aged separately and then blended together. The alcohol content is 13.7%.
The color is a rich, black cherry red. The nose is smokey red fruit, along with blackberry and a solid shot of pepper. This is a Red blend that is large on flavor, but is still very much in balance. It tastes of black cherry and blueberry, with a solid layer of licorice running underneath the fruit. The mid palate adds some blackberry, pepper and a soft touch of spice. The finish is huge and long.
The 2011 Bonny Doon Contra offers a lot to like for not a lot of money, it lists for $18, but can often be found for several dollars less. It is a very singular wine, it is not a copy of another wine, using grapes varietals from vineyards other producers are not using and made in a very personal style, in fairly small quantities (2,256 cases). Even though the Contra is a blend based on the wines of the Rhone Valley, it is a very American Red, perfect for enjoying with friends while barbecuing your specialty on the backyard Weber grill and yet a very satisfying and complex drink in its own right