Tastes au-contraire-2

Published on December 14th, 2017 | by Greg


Au Contraire Wines: Holidays Need A Good Bottle Or Two

Whether you celebrate the festival of lights or the upcoming arrival of 2018, you’re probably going to want something to drink. And while champagne is appropriately festive, and harder spirits might be a more soothing way to warm up, neither of them pairs well with what is often a main attraction during the holidays- the family-sized meals. We’ve got a trio of options today, which should cover every course and pair with most entree options.

Three options, they represent the triplet of the classical examples of Northern California American wine varietals. There’s a chance you haven’t heard of Palm Bay, the parent company, but you may recognize the name behind these- Taub- or some of the other wines in their wide-ranging portfolio, from Angry Bunch to Santa Rita, Ferrari to Callia.

The Au Contraire 2016 Chardonnay comes from the Russian River Valley, and area we are pretty familiar with. Aged for 8 months in tanks and barrels (100% French oak, 30% new), it features just a little more amber highlights than some, and as with other wines from the area, it’s not buttery or oaky, but naturally crisp and balanced. The tasting notes boast of citrus and tree fruits, but its not too sweet or tart- we tasted more apple, and it’s a smooth selection- a little dry, and easy to pair with chicken or fish. It’s also a solid value, running about $22 a bottle.

Slightly more expensive, but still coming in under $30, the Au Contraire 2014 Pinot Noir was aged for a full year in barrels after primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Farmed from the Sonoma Coast area (Sebastopol to the Fort Ross Seaview AVA), it’s a cooler climate- which leads to a more understated wine. Pinot can be quite expressive- warm and rich, fruity or silky- but this one is almost restrained. That makes it easier to pair in some ways, and it’s full-bodied enough to hold up to just about any sort of meat, grilled or otherwise. A lengthy finish allows this one to grow on you.

Finally, the Napa Valley boasts some superb conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon, and we recommend the Heritance 2014 vintage. Aged for 18 months in 75% new French Oak, there is a little wood expressed, and a nice tannic undertone to the vanilla and heartier spices. And though they talk about black currant and plum, we most appreciated the hints of nuttiness that set it apart from the tobacco/berry/brighter Cabs. As with any wine this dark and complex, you can pair with red meat- or sip after dinner on it’s own. Where the earlier pair offer a more straightforward appeal, this last one is definitely little more refined- the perfect finish, and a good deal at $34.99.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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