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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

2020 Riesling

2020 Rose

NV Red Blend Bubbly

Private Tasting with Winemaker

THE RAMBLING VINE

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 Magnum of 2003 Shiraz. That should keep them happy!

BUY NOW WITH DISCOUNT, FREE SHIPPING + BONUS

You don't need to add the bonus Magnum 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.

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

Tony Mansfield
 
2 September 2020 | Tony Mansfield

Contentious Scores with Halliday

A fellow vigneron and old friend of mine, who happens to be French, once arrogantly said to me, ‘Wine Awards are like haemorrhoids, sooner or later everyone gets one’. 

I never thought much of it until we signed the papers to buy Lambert Vineyards and launched Contentious Character. Since then I’ve noticed many wineries cover their bottles in stickers pronouncing they’ve won this or that gold, silver or bronze.

And then the emails started coming in with invitations; invitations to enter international shows, national shows, state shows, city shows like the Sydney Royal Wine show, regional shows, small vigneron shows, cool climate shows, fortified wine shows, gender shows like the Australian Wine Women of the Year and the Young Gun of Wine awards and varietal shows like the Canberra International Riesling Challenge. In fact, there are over 100 shows in Australia alone. 

HOW THE AUSSIES SCORE

The Australian system of medals and trophies awards wines out of 20 points. Only one trophy a year is awarded, making it a real winner. But medals are not like the Olympic gold, silver, bronze system. They are more like school grading; any wine that scores over the baseline earns a gold, silver or bronze medal. A bronze medal on a bottle of wine doesn't mean it's the third best wine in its category; it just means the judges found it drinkable.

Classes are another thing. Shows can have hundreds of classes. Is a trophy for 'best shiraz under $10' class worth more than a gold medal in the 'best shiraz under $25' class? A double gold is when all judges agree the wine deserves a gold medal and the increasingly prevalent blue-gold medal indicates they judged the wine with food. This, to me, is the superior way to judge a wine!

It's important to keep in mind thought ath just because a bottle has no medal, trophy or points doesn’t mean anything except it was never entered into a show. Judges at big shows taste hundreds of wines a day, so their palette could be muddied. 'Wine fatigue' means bigger, bolder wines are likely to win the top prizes so if you're a fan of softer, more elegant wine, medal winners might not suit your taste anyway.

HOW THE YANKS DO IT

The American system —Australian judges, James Halliday and Huon Hooke prefer it - sees wine ranked out of 100. This is why you'll see many wines advertised as having been awarded scores of 95+.

Here's how to interpret it:

  • Scores of 95 to 100 are highly recommended wines — 98 is fantastic
  • 99 and 100 are rare, but occasionally awarded to particularly good vintages 
  • Anything above 90 is still classed as outstanding
  • 85 to 89 is very good 
  • 80 to 84 creates your baseline for a good wine, which you’ll reach for again 
  • 75 to 79 is the condescending 'drinkable' category
  • Everything below is generally not recommended. 

While some wineries will put their scores out of 100 on the bottle, they most likely won't bother unless it's over 90. This may be a better indicator of a recommended wine than the medal system. 

With all this in mind, Contentious Character chose a select group of medal and point-based awards to enter as a starting point for our award journey. James Halliday Wine Companion was the first to pass judgement on four of our wines.

With the scores below, we’re feeling chuffed enough to make a fuss like all the others. The detailed notes are available in the 2020 and 2021 Halliday Wine Companion.

 

Some of our Founders Museum wines (as far back as the 2001 vintage) also won awards back in their heyday. And I’ve noted with interest some awarded wines are still drinking exceptionally well so perhaps there is something in the awards business after all.

Is that a little itch I feel down around my bottom?

Time Posted: 02/09/2020 at 5:17 PM