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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 winery, set in the hills of Wamboin, 30km east of Canberra. Whether you come to ours, 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 winery, set in the hills of Wamboin, 30km east of Canberra. Whether you come to ours, or our wines come to you, we’ll give you plenty to talk about.

ALL ABOUT US

CONTENTIOUS CHARACTER? YOU'RE IN GOOD COMPANY.

If you love our wines as much as we do, sign-up for regular delivery and save, with a generous loyalty discount.

JOIN THE COLLECTIVE

CONTENTIOUS CHARACTER? YOU'RE IN GOOD COMPANY.

If you love our wines as much as we do, sign-up for regular delivery and save, with a generous loyalty discount.

JOIN THE COLLECTIVE

try our wines and share our view

When it comes to what we believe in, we stand our ground. So if you want to meet some Contentious Characters in person, we’re pretty easy to find. Come over for a tasting, a good meal or a simple yarn, and we’ll show you what we’re all about.

VISIT US

try our wines and share our view

When it comes to what we believe in, we stand our ground. So if you want to meet some Contentious Characters in person, we’re pretty easy to find. Come over for a tasting, a good meal or a simple yarn, and we’ll show you what we’re all about.

VISIT US

FEATURED PRODUCTS

2015 Pinot Gris

2016 Riesling

2016 Chardonnay

Private Tasting with Winemaker

THE RAMBLING VINE

Contentious Character
 
21 February 2020 | Contentious Character

The Story Behind the Names

Murder Fifty Shades of Merlot in Your Cakehole

I COULD MURDER A MERLOT
Merlot is the biggest grape variety in all of France and 67 million French can’t be wrong! Yet some people are still living in the dark ages of 2004. If you saw Miles in Sideways protest that he ain’t gonna drink a fucking Merlot, you know what we mean. Merlot has come of age and, just like us, it really is time to grow up. Next time you thirst for a titillating, surprising glass of wine, then go ahead and murder a Merlot. Our Merlot is so delicious, like murder, it ought to be illegal. 


CRISP IN YOUR CAKEHOLE
We were talking about some of the big mouths in the wine industry and how no one knows everything about wine, not even middle aged men. Everyone’s opinion is valid as long as we agree with it. But rather than say something crisp like, “shut your cakehole!”, we decided to put something crisp into your cakehole. The obvious crispy wine is Riesling - with all that lemon and lime on the palette and nose, it’s not contentious. But it’s got to be the crispest wine for your cakehole.

FIFTY SHADES OF GRAPE
When we say, “fifty shades”, we could mean a wine that is very nuanced and subtle, or just our winemakers’ heads. Our Pinot Gris has shades of white, red or blue grey, depending on whether you look at it first thing in the morning or after a few glasses. The 2015 erotic movie Fifty Shades of Grey, inspired us to name our very first Pinot Grigio, but we cannot guarantee the same effect.  
A Note re Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio - We often explain the origins of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio, its Italian counterpart in our cellar door. We will typically pick the version of the name that invokes the style of the wine, and in this case we decided this was our first Pinot Grigio.

Contentious Character
 
21 February 2020 | Contentious Character

Tainted Love: Smoke in the Vineyard

Nobody needs reminding about the devastation caused by this Summer’s bushfires. Luckily for us at Contentious Character, we managed to escape. But a few vineyards, like Tumbarumba not far from the ACT and others on the South Coast of NSW, were not so lucky. Even so, nobody has escaped the constant swirl and sweep of smoke.

According to Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI), when vineyards and grapes are exposed to a lot of smoke, it can leave wine with an ashy, burnt or smoky taste. This is called “smoke taint”. The official view is vintners should never release a wine they know to be affected by smoke taint. In fact, most vintners would rather pour their beloved wines down the sink than be hammered by an international wine critic further down the track.

But is this view a bit too, well, rigid? 

What do these delicious foods have in common: peaches, tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, oysters, cheese, nuts and salmon? Clever chefs will guess right away – you can smoke them. But not many vintners think you can or should smoke your wines. Now that’s contentious.

Nobody knows how much smoke a grape can handle before a wine tastes unpalatable. Grape variety makes a difference too – Sangiovese is affected more than cabernet sauvignon. Fresh smoke is better than stale smoke. Anyone who went into a pub in the old days before smokers got corralled into the gambling room, knows that stale smell.

We do know grapes can be affected quite early in their cycle, starting at least from the pea-berry stage, and can also transfer through the leaves. Compounds from burnt wood bind with sugars in the grapes. These compounds get released during fermentation and over time, in their journey from barrel, to bottle, and finally to your discerning taste buds.  

One way to test them for smoke taint is through testing grapes and sampling early micro-ferments, which is good insurance and can help with planning for the vintage. Not everyone holds this view. Some think there is no correlation between a few wine samples and the final result. 

One enterprising vintner even claims the smoky aroma and taste of tainted wine is not unlike single malt whisky, or using charred barrels to get a smoky taste into their wines. 

We think there’s a fine line between a subtle smoky taste and a wet ashtray.

Our view is a little more nuanced. Canberra has had its share of bushfires in the past and we know our grapes have probably been affected  in some way or other, just as they are by the different and ever changing climate and season – there are lots of variables still in play and how we work with the wine making we decide to undertake, will determine the 2020 vintage, good, bad or mixed. Perhaps nature has, in its own way, contributed to the terroir. We might even be tempted to bring out a new label: Scomo’s Smoky Chardy. 

Then again, as we know, politics is all smoke and mirrors. You can trust Contentious Character, to be a lot more honest.


 

 

Contentious Character
 

Chardonnay: Why Chardy is Queen

It is one of the most graceful words in French, and a very popular white wine. Many have called it Queen of the Grapes (cabernet sauvignon is King). Even so, chardonnay’s image in Australia has been surprisingly contentious!

It is called Grandma’s drink, chardy and even “really noice”, thanks to the ever-articulate Kath and Kim. (Kim pronounced it “cardonnay, because it has a silent haitch”!)

Chardonnay has also been unfairly associated with affluent left-wing drinkers in the terms, “chardonnay set” and “champagne socialist”. Unfair to both the drinkers and the wine. Luckily this varietal is versatile, easy to manage and high yielding, and not affected by political prejudice.

This green grape was first grown in Burgundy in France and particularly in the area of Chablis. You can now find it all over the world in Argentina, California, Chile, Italy, New Zealand and Australia. It thrives in both warm and cold climates. Many chardonnays are used to produce sparkling wines.

So much taste

While the grape itself has a neutral taste, soil, climate and aging in oak, create a wide range of enticing flavours. Most Australian chardonnays have plenty of ripe melon, grapefruit and ripe peach fruit. When chardonnay is very ripe, it tastes of tropical pineapple, guava and mango. When barely ripe, more like lemons and green apples.

Cooler regions, like Canberra, Tasmania and Mornington Peninsula have more subtle characters, with a lot more grapefruit and lime. Cool climate chardonnays tend to express the site of the vineyard, region and season.

Oaking chardonnay brings in flavours of vanilla, spice, toast and caramel. Meanwhile, the process of aging converts malic into lactic acid, which helps to add a rich buttery flavour.

Characteristics

FRUIT: Lime, lemon, apple, pineapple, grapefruit
ALSO: Honeysuckle, vanilla bean, almond, jasmine
AGING: 5-10 years in oak
ACIDITY: Medium high (unoaked cool climate)
SERVE: Oaked 12 degrees C, unoaked 9 degrees C

OTHER NAMES: Chablis, Pouilly-Fuissé and Meursault

Whether you prefer an oaked or unoaked chardonnay, it is easy to pair with your next meal.

A young unoaked cool climate Chardonnay (like Contentious Character's 2015 Chardonnay) pairs with delicate and light foods. Choose grilled fish, chicken, prawns or sushi. Chardonnay that is well aged in oak and full bodied pairs well with cheddar, foie gras, veal chops and (for the vegetarians who are so often left out of wine pairings) pumpkin ravioli.

Chardonnay even has its own International Chardonnay Day, on a date in late May. This could be the perfect time to enjoy one of the most expensive chardys in the world, Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet, for somewhere around $US6,000.

If you would like to treat Grandma to a bottle of her favourite, look no further than a Contentious Character  2004 Chardonnay for $33 or a lighter more contemporary Chardonnay like our 2015 for $35. But if you visit our cellar door to taste it first, you might discover Grandma (or Kath or Kim) knew something you didn’t.