Published on December 14th, 2017 | by Greg0
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.