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WE'LL GIVE YOU
PLENTY TO TALK ABOUT
TRY OUR WINES
AND SHARE OUR VIEW

ABOUT

Welcome to the home of good wine and great debates.

Contentious Character is a cool-climate Canberra winery, set in the hills of Wamboin, just 30km east of Canberra city.

We’re a single vineyard winery and our first plantings date back to 1990. 

At one of the Canberra wine region’s highest elevations, our undulating hills give every vine the chance to breathe fresh air, and bask in the sun. These conditions akin to Continental Europe mean our wines take on an elegant, nuanced character. It’s a lovable contrast to what many expect from Australian wines.

Come taste our boutique Australian wines at our cellar door and enjoy our contemporary Australian menu (with an Italian flair) featuring local produce at our restaurant; all against the backdrop of rolling hills and distant views of the Snowy Mountains, create a charming backdrop to our cool-climate vineyards. 

Whether you come to us, or our wines come to you, we’ll give you plenty to talk about.

ALL ABOUT US

ABOUT

Welcome to the home of good wine and great debates.

Contentious Character is a cool-climate Canberra winery, set in the hills of Wamboin, just 30km east of Canberra city.

We’re a single vineyard winery and our first plantings date back to 1990. 

At one of the Canberra wine region’s highest elevations, our undulating hills give every vine the chance to breathe fresh air, and bask in the sun. These conditions akin to Continental Europe mean our wines take on an elegant, nuanced character. It’s a lovable contrast to what many expect from Australian wines.

Come taste our boutique Australian wines at our cellar door and enjoy our contemporary Australian menu (with an Italian flair) featuring local produce at our restaurant; all against the backdrop of rolling hills and distant views of the Snowy Mountains, create a charming backdrop to our cool-climate vineyards. 

Whether you come to us, or our wines come to you, we’ll give you plenty to talk about.

ALL ABOUT US

CONTENTIOUS CHARACTER? YOU'RE IN GOOD COMPANY.

As a boutique vineyard and producer, we don’t believe in making the ‘same same’ wines each year. 

We’re directed more by the season and what happens in the vines. We often don’t make a firm decision about what or sometimes even how we will produce our next vintage until it comes time to harvest and press our grapes. 

From austere, yet elegant Pinot Noirs and Rieslings, to full flavoured Shiraz, Cabernets, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, we have a wine to suit every set of taste buds. 

And if you love our wines as much as we do, sign up to our Wine Club for regular delivery of our Australian wines to your doorstep and save with a generous loyalty discount (not only on our wines but also at our restaurant)

JOIN OUR WINE CLUB

CONTENTIOUS CHARACTER? YOU'RE IN GOOD COMPANY.

As a boutique vineyard and producer, we don’t believe in making the ‘same same’ wines each year. 

We’re directed more by the season and what happens in the vines. We often don’t make a firm decision about what or sometimes even how we will produce our next vintage until it comes time to harvest and press our grapes. 

From austere, yet elegant Pinot Noirs and Rieslings, to full flavoured Shiraz, Cabernets, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, we have a wine to suit every set of taste buds. 

And if you love our wines as much as we do, sign up to our Wine Club for regular delivery of our Australian wines to your doorstep and save with a generous loyalty discount (not only on our wines but also at our restaurant)

JOIN OUR WINE CLUB

try our wines and share our view

When it comes to what we believe in, we stand our ground. And there’s nothing contentious about our hospitality.

Come across the ACT/NSW border to Wamboin to our classic, cool-climate Canberra winery.

Out here, the locals are friendly, and the odds are good you’ll spot a kangaroo or two bounding through the vines. Join us for a tasting of our boutique wines, a good meal made of local produce and a simple yarn.

VISIT US

try our wines and share our view

When it comes to what we believe in, we stand our ground. And there’s nothing contentious about our hospitality.

Come across the ACT/NSW border to Wamboin to our classic, cool-climate Canberra winery.

Out here, the locals are friendly, and the odds are good you’ll spot a kangaroo or two bounding through the vines. Join us for a tasting of our boutique wines, a good meal made of local produce and a simple yarn.

VISIT US

FEATURED PRODUCTS

2020 Riesling

2020 Rose

NV Red Blend Bubbly

Private Tasting with Winemaker

THE RAMBLING VINE

Contentious Character
 
16 January 2021 | Contentious Character

Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Wine Is Wrong

Unless you’re James Halliday or a proper wine snob, you’ve probably got the wrong ideas about wine. 

Because we like to be contentious here at Contentious Character, one of Canberra's wineries serving up the best Australian wine (no contention about that), we’re going to explore some of the things people often get wrong. 


PICTURED: One of our two pavilions; perfect for your small group celebrations. Book here.

“Wine is bad for you”

Says who? It turns out lots of people say this...but that doesn’t mean they’re right.

Hippocrates, famous for his early medical practices, recommended wine as part of a healthy diet. He said you could use it to disinfect wounds, ease diarrhoea and reduce the pain of childbirth. 

In 1991, a study found regular red wine drinkers had better cholesterol. According to the French Paradox, French people can eat more saturated fat, thanks to the resveratrol in red wine. In 2008, resveratrol was said to protect against dementia, fight obesity and Alzheimer's, lower lung cancer risk, and keep hearts “young”.

The British Heart Foundation and University of Cambridge upset the wine cart when they said drinking ten glasses of wine a week can shorten life expectancy by two years.

Meanwhile, a Spanish man then died in northwest Spain after a lifetime of drinking four bottles of homemade red wine every day...at 107 years old.  He never drank water.

The answer is clear: make up your own mind. 

“White goes with fish, red goes with steak”

This is one of those aphorisms that get wheeled out in restaurants all over Australia and perhaps the world. We may even learn it slightly before we’re even old enough to drink the stuff. But it’s wrong! It’s out of date.

You have to look at the cooking technique and the sauce before choosing a wine – not just whether it’s fish or meat. For instance, steak tartare or steak with béarnaise sauce goes very well with white Burgundy.

Another thing to consider is texture. If a fish is grilled, the smokiness passed on in the fish is often best paired with a red. 

It is also a matter of complementarity. A seared tuna steak with red wine goes with a Pinot Noir and a meat carpaccio with capers and citrus goes with Sauvignon Blanc. 

So just don’t say it again. It makes you look old.


PICTURED: Our vines looking lush!

“Organic wine is healthier”

The debate about organic versus non-organic rages in the food sector so why not the wine industry? You’ve seen those wholesome looking bottles of organic wine - you know the type where even the labels look healthy enough to eat. 

The arguments for organic wine are much the same as for organic food: fewer pesticides and heavy metals, more omega-3 fatty acids, more antioxidants, no antibiotics or synthetic hormones. 

But the real “problem” in conventional wine is sulphites. These are preservatives added to wine to prevent it from spoiling, oxidising or aging too quickly. Wine made with organic grapes can have sulphites up to 100 ppm, but conventional wine can have up to 350 ppm.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to make wine that smells, looks or tastes like what people demand, without them. Very few people are actually allergic to them.

In this case, rather than be contentious, we take a balanced approach to the addition of sulphites.

“Only men like big reds”

It’s true; some men like big reds, because they enjoy admitting to liking things that are big.

But there are women who like them too. And the converse; that women only like soft, subtle reds like pinots or whites like chardonnay, is wrong too. Apparently, women have more sensitive taste buds so they tend not to like highly tannic or highly acidic wines. 

Men like to show off and boast with highly regarded and competition-winning wines. Now that is surprising (sense our sarcasm here please). 

At Contentious Character, we don’t succumb to these generalisations. We know all types of people like all kinds of wine. So that’s why we grow all kinds of wine for all kinds of characters. 

“Canberra wine is only for politicians”

Wow, you did not! How contentious. Our Australian wine at Contentious Character is too good to waste on just one small segment of the population, no matter how discerning they are. We are very inclusive and we welcome everyone, even if everything they think about wine is wrong!

Book a wine tasting, lunch or dinner today and come taste our wines and share our views (of the rolling hills of Wamboin - not political!) 

BOOK NOW

Contentious Character
 
1 December 2020 | Contentious Character

The Contentious Character 2020 Christmas Gift Guide

When looking for wine gifts and local Canberra produce gifts, Contentious Character have got you covered for your 2020 Christmas gift ideas. Make it a day with your Christmas shopping and book a wine tasting at our cellar door in Wamboin or order online (we ship Australia-wide). 

Here are 8 Christmas present recommendations, brought to you by us Contentious Characters:

For the guzzler of reds and ONLY reds

The perfect wine gift for the red wine drinker is a bottle (or case - imagine that under the tree on Christmas Day) of our 2018 Merlot. This is a full bodied wine with dominant plum and black cherry flavours with hints of graphite and earthy undertones. (PS. Our 2018 Merlot also makes for a respectable corporate gift for your colleagues and clients.)

BUY NOW $40

 

 

 

For the one who can never make up their mind

Red wine? White wine? There’s always one mate who can’t decide. They’re ‘Between A Rock And A Hard Place’ which so happens to be the name of our 2020 Rose. This Rose throws flavours of strawberries and cream with hints of vanilla and a touch of sweetness. This is the wine we’ll be sipping on Christmas Eve to get ready for the big day.

BUY NOW $29

 

 

 

For the one who likes to push the envelope

Our red bubbly is an intriguing blend of red vintages from 2008 to 2014, fermented in oak barrels and freshly carbonated. It’s ‘A Mongrel Of A Dog’ and is definitely for those who love something different (but damn delicious). This sparkling red will get the party started these holidays (and it’s also a great one for Christmas morning before the mother-in-law arrives…).

BUY NOW $30

 

 

 

 

For the one who puts tomato sauce on everything

On steaks, on pies, on bread. On everything including whatever you’re feasting on on Christmas Day. Our Cabernet Ketchup is housemade, big and rich and imbued with our red wine. Our Classic Ketchup is a great all-rounder. Both available in full-size at 10 dollars or in a gift pack for 20 dollars (which also includes our Apple Ketchup which goes deliciously with pork).

SHOP CONDIMENTS

 

 

 

For the one who loves a good wine label 

‘Redhead And A Lightweight’ is our 2017 Shiraz/ Pinot. We love it for its red fruit with spicy overtures on the nose and its fruity mouthfeel with good grip and length. But LOTS of our customers simply love the name and label. If you’ve got a redhead in the family, this one is a must-have for Christmas day laughs and conversations.

BUY NOW $39

 

 

 

 

 

For the one who will drink anything (and a lot of it)

It’s BEEN a year. And we wouldn’t have gotten through it without wine (and each other, of course). Gift a mixed case of our newest wines as a Christmas present; 3x 2020 Riesling, 3 x 2020 Rose, 3 x V Red Bubbly and 3 x Reds (1 each of 2018 Merlot, 2017 Shiraz/Pinot Noir and 2018 Pinot Noir) and receive 15% off, free shipping AND a bonus Trio Boxed Contentious Ketchup Gift Pack. That should keep them happy!

BUY NOW WITH DISCOUNT, FREE SHIPPING + BONUS

You don't need to add the bonus Gift Pack to cart- we'll do that all for you when getting your gift ready!

 

For the one who’s always after novel experiences

Treat your loved one to a day in the rolling hills of Wamboin. We offer three experiences;

  • Private Tasting with the Winemaker himself with a 3-course Lunch; tour the winery with a premium tasting held by the winemaker himself before a sumptuous 3-course lunch AND take home two of your favourite bottles 
  • Indulgence Tasting; 12 wines paired with a gourmet cheese board featuring our housemade condiments. Some vintages here are up to 15 years old!
  • Vintage Wine Tasting with 3-course Lunch; taste a range of recent and aged vintages followed by a 3-course meal for two with a glass of paired wine

SHOP EXPERIENCES

And the gift of choice...

And of course there’s always that tricky family member who you can never find the right present for. Give them the gift of choice with a Contentious Character Gift Card that can be spent at our cellar door, shop, restaurant or online. 

SHOP GIFT CARDS

2020’s been unprecedented (is that the millionth time that word’s been used this year?) so all the more reason to love on and spoil each other this Christmas. We wish you a safe and happy holiday season and we thank you for supporting local this year and beyond.

Time Posted: 01/12/2020 at 5:07 PM
Tony Mansfield
 
1 November 2020 | Tony Mansfield

Cabernet Sauvignon: The happily blended family of CabSav

Cabernet sauvignon - Contentious Character Wamboin NSWThere are four of us at Contentious Character and, in some ways, we’re like a blended family ourselves. The two couples bring their own special qualities to the blend. And, unfortunately, also some traits we’re not quite so proud of but it keeps things interesting here at our vineyard in the Canberra region.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a happy blended family of grapes - but it happened all by itself. Back in the 1600s, the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc had a dangerous liaison in Bordeaux and produced a child. If someone had not thoughtfully taken a cutting, the blend would have disappeared altogether. And what a shame that would've been; a world without the 'king of grapes'.

Today, Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most loved and popular red variety in the world (merlot drinkers might like to contest that). 

 

 

 

The beginnings of cabsav in Australian wine

Cabernet Sauvignon first graced Australian soil in the 19th century with the oldest surviving vineyard being the Penfolds Block 42 in the Barossa, planted in 1885.

It is known affectionately in Australia as 'cabsav', even though cabsav sounds like a taxi with GPS or a dish with red sausages. The important thing is that we all know what we mean by it; it’s a 'big, full-bodied bold red'. 

The characteristics and profile of Cabernet Sauvignon

You may have heard of the Cabernet 'donut'. This refers to cabsav hitting the front of the palate with its fruit flavours before skipping to a lingering medium acidity and tannin on the back of the palate. 

Here are some other words to describe cabsav (besdies "big, full-bodied bold red") at your next wine tasting so you can flaunt your oenophile knowledge:

COLOUR: typically darker and deeper than a Merlot
FRUIT: Black cherry, black currant and blackberry
OTHER: Black pepper, cedar, licorice, tobacco, vanilla
OAK: Loves 9-18 months in French oak.
TANNIN: Medium
ACIDITY: Medium, can linger on the tongue
BLENDS: It blends well with Bordeaux wines Italian Supertuscans

And in fact, the style of Cabernet Sauvignon depends on how ripe the grapes are at harvest:

  • Unripe grapes are high in pyrazines, so they taste more like green capsicum and vegetation (and actually, cool-climate wineries like those in the Canberra region are known to produce cabsavs with this profile)
  • Ripe grapes are fruity with blackcurrants and black cherries and when overripe, can taste jammy

“What does cabsav go with?” 

Cabernet sauvignon and Pizza - Contentious Character Wamboin NSWMany people will say that cabsav begs to be paired with food, because it is heavier wine. If you’re sharing our view from here in the Canberra region, we think it pairs well with our woodfired mushroom pizza (add tomato sauce for a REALLY good time). Cabernet Sauvignon also goes with a juicy marinated ribeye steak.

This is because cabsavs are generally quite complex wines so they go well with foods that are high in fats and that 'umami' flavour which roughly translates to a 'pleasant savoury flavour' (hence why mushrooms and red meat are our go-to's). 

 

 

 

 

Which wine regions are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon?

This happily blended family is the world's most widely planted grape. This is likely due to its strong, hardy nature, thanks to its thick skin and the fact it ripens later in the vintage to avoid frost and rot. It is an adaptable grape that even grows well in a desert (though we'd never call the Canberra region that!).

Look for cabsav from South America, Lebanon, Long Island, New York and Chile. When it comes to Australian wine, you can find complex and subtle cabsav in the Coonawarra, Margaret River, Hilltops in NSW and, of course, Canberra (specifically in the rolling hills of Wamboin). 

The most expensive cabsav would have set you back a cool half-a-million US dollars at auction. It’s a Screaming Eagle 1992 from the famous Napa Valley. One wine connoisseur described it as “exceptionally impressive”, and we are sure he meant the wine...

One contentious character was actually served cabsav at his inauguration. We’re talking about none other than Donald Trump. He was fortunate enough to be poured the Delicato Black Stallion 2012 Limited Release (again from the Napa Valley). But it was wasted on him: Donald Trump, like George Bush, is teetotal.

Unlike Trump, Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety that can age gracefully for many decades.

At Contentious Character, we’ve taken our blended family a little further. We blend our cabsav with Merlot (and evenwith a hint of Shiraz) and our latest release makes for quite the sumptuous drink. So the next time you're in the Canberra region, come out to the rolling hills of Wamboin and enjoy a tasting at our cellar door (wine tasting menu here).

SHOP RED WINE

BOOK TASTINGS

As we publish this, Christmas is next month. *Jaw drop*. It feels like we literally just took down the tree but then again, it also feels like we're stuck in March so who really cares! What we should care about are the Christmas parties. More than any year before, we all need a Christmas party that'll get us feeling jolly and that'll warm our hearts and stomachs. Well, look no further. We're ready to have you.

HOST YOUR EVENT WITH US