It’s always exciting to find local wines in places out of town. My husband and I were in Palm Desert recently for the Paribas tennis tournament in Indian Wells—staying at one of the Marriott villas, complete with full kitchen. Although it’s fun to try the huge variety of wonderful restaurants in the area, we also like to prepare our own dinner now and again, so we stopped by Bristol Farms grocery store for something to cook out on the grill.
Looking for a bottle of wine to go with dinner, I spotted Bonny Doon’s Contra, a Central Coast red wine ($14) that we had not tried before. Although Bonny Doon wines are shipped all over the country, it’s still exciting to see a wine from the Santa Cruz area in a store that’s miles away from home.
I love to open up a bottle of wine and pour myself a glass when I’m preparing dinner. Whilst my husband is cooking up most of our evening’s meal outside on the grill, all I had to do was make a simple salad and a couple of baked potatoes, giving me plenty of time to try the Contra just by itself. For a pretty inexpensive wine, the Contra has a lot going for it. On unscrewing the cap of this “old vine field blend,” I get lots of cherries and licorice on the nose—enticing aromas even before taking a sip. And an abundance of dark berry flavors from this rustic, earthy wine are a true delight for the senses from the Contra’s bold and delicious blend of several varietals.
Founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard Randall Grahm has always been an extraordinary winemaker. And for him, it’s all about having fun with a twist whilst you’re doing it. The picture on the front label depicts a couch in a field, and the wording on the back label would catch anybody’s attention. Who else but the Bonny Doon crew would be so comically verbose as to say “A wine (hardly) contraindicated for gastronomy, it is above all, contrapuntal.” But on a more serious note, it also says, “Contra is a wine that reflects the opposite of modern winemaking sensibilities—of wines over-worked and amped up, pushed and prodded into Procrustean palate-numbing sameness.” That most certainly cannot be said about the Contra.
Bonny Doon Vineyard, 328 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 425-4518. Bonnydoonvineyard.com.
Dinner at Hoffman’s Bistro & Patisserie with Alfaro Family Vineyards
Mark your calendar for what is sure to be a wonderful food and wine experience. Hoffman’s is teaming up with Richard Alfaro for a wine-pairing dinner extravaganza on Wednesday, April 4 at 6 p.m.
Info and reservations: Hoffman’s Bistro, 1102 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 420-0135. Hoffmanssantacruz.com.