Contraste Red Table Wine, Mexico/CA $4.99

Silverdale, WA   13.5% alc.

Suffice it to say that this label is rather stark, yet artsey and attractive. I kind of like it.

Back label states this wine “is the artistic collaboration between two wineries: Casa de Piedra and Wente Vineyards.” Casa de Piedra is located in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico and Wente is in the Livermore Valley of CA.  A unique collaboration indeed.  Back label says “Product of Mexico”, so I’m assuming all the grapes are indeed from Mexican vineyards.  Actually, years ago I found a delicious, inexpensive Mexican Petite Sirah from the Baja.

Until this wine was uncorked, I assumed it was a non-vintage red blend.  But after removing the capsule, the top of the cork revealed a 2006 imprint.  Maybe GO was able to get it because it has no vintage date on the label (unintentionally omitted?).  Clear deep ruby youthful appearance; delightful nose of plum and other black fruits along with cedar and some minty qualities; in the mouth, there’s cassis, blackberry and raspberry fruit with some chocolate and that same mintiness at the back of the palate.  It has excellent acidity and medium firm tannins.  The oak here merely frames the wine and is perfectly integrated.  This is really a beautiful wine…especially at five bucks…and a very pleasant and unexpected surprise.

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About lim13

31 years in mid-management in the retail liquor and wine industry; retired since 2005. Long-time wine collector, wine educator, and in the past, a wine writer, who also enjoys playing guitar and singing, clogging, and cooking. Volunteer with the local Humane Society and Cancer Society.

35 thoughts on “Contraste Red Table Wine, Mexico/CA $4.99

  1. Expat

    Tried the $10 version last night, which is a 2007 per the top of the cork. I was wrong, it’s a blend and not a cab. Thought it was nicely made but my concerns about the 15% alcohol level were confirmed – too little acidity and overall backbone for me to drop a sawbuck on again. It was soft, pleasing and not that exciting. Maybe the earlier vintages are more interesting.

    Reply
    1. lim13 Post author

      The ’07 indeed sounds less interesting than the ’06 that I had and reviewed, Expat. But at twice, the price I paid up here in WA, I’d likely have purchased neither vintage.

      Reply
    2. weinish

      This review pretty much captures my thoughts. If I were going to a party, wanted to tell a little story about the whole Mexico aspect, maybe I’d bring it. It’s the kind of wine that won’t really upset anyone, and most casual drinkers will like it because it’s cali-big. But it does lack nuance/acidity. A bit too pricey for GO, but I could see this wine selling to a certain crowd for $20+.

      Reply
  2. JWC

    Picked up a couple bottles on Lim13′s review, and all the positive feedback. Popped the first one last week, initially thought the composition was zinfandel w/some petite sirah or vice versa perhaps, anyhow zin & ps. Blackberry flavors, ripe, briary, but nowhere near a fruit bomb…with a finish of juniper, or very light mint.. The 2nd bottle popped 3 days ago, vinturi’d and immediately thought petite sirah, blackberry, inky texture and some tannin. Medium bodied, well balanced, nice wine. Had the last 2 glasses with a friend tonight, wine had held together nicely, and blossomed into a smooth integrated wine. Two very different bottles, at different places for sure… after visiting the website, the blend maybe tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon. The site is limited in information to put it mildly. Plenty of this in Portland, and doesn’t appear to be moving quickly. Nice QPR.

    Reply
    1. lim13 Post author

      Thanks for your take on the wine, JWC…and glad you enjoyed it. Did you happen to notice if you had the 2006 or 2007…or perhaps both? Vintage should have been on the top of the cork.

      Reply
      1. JWC

        2006 on both, $4.99. Back in the 60′s & 70′s when we lived in the Bay Area, Wente seemed to be more of a bulk producer, with the Green Hungarian and all…Today with the concerts and higher end offerings, the focus has evolved, which appears to be a good thing.

        Reply
        1. JWC

          Also, thanks for the review, this is one, I most likely would have walked by, the label was kind of a tweener for me. Somewhere between good and eh.. Right now, this is the best red in the GO’s here on the west side. Not a lot of new wines.

          Reply
    2. lim13 Post author

      I did find out that the 2005 (initial vintage) was a blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot & Tempranillo. But still no reply from Wente on the ’06 or ’07.

      Reply
  3. Expat

    I saw this in Atascadero and Santa Maria for $10, but I swear it was a cab and it was about 15% alcohol, so maybe we’re talking about two different wines from the same joint venture/label

    Reply
  4. dluber

    We popped a bottle I got from Oakland last nite ($10; 2007 on the long, high-quality natural cork). A nicely made wine, if a bit hard to identify. I’d guess it’s mostly cab and syrah with maybe some petite or zin. Better acidity and complexity than most cheap AU and CA blends from less-than-prestigious sites, seems to have some aging potential given its size and construction, but quite drinkable now and better with an hour of air.

    Reply
  5. bin5

    They were stocking the shelves in Renton with this wine on Friday. There were quite a few cases. Each wine in the box was wrapped in tissue which wasn’t helping the person stocking. I will give this a try this weekend.

    Reply
    1. lim13 Post author

      Funny, b5…last week the wine guy at the Silverdale store was also lamenting re: the tissue wrap on the Contraste.

      Reply
  6. Joel A

    Mexican grapes can be suprisingly good. Had some wines made from grapes from Baja California a few years ago at a winery near San Diego.

    Reply
    1. lim13 Post author

      Indeed, Joel. As I mentioned earlier, one of the best deals and tastiest Petite Sirahs I had was from L.A. Cetto on the Baja. That was about ten years ago.

      Reply
    1. BargainWhine

      That is what I believe I saw at the San Pablo store, too, although that was on the first morning of the sale, so it may no longer be there. Also $9.99.

      Reply
  7. David

    Saw this last night at Bremerton GO, went there looking for Lazy Creek which we purchased on the sale and enjoyed but not there. Did get a bottle of the Wispering Tree Riesling

    Reply
    1. lim13 Post author

      Hope you enjoy the Whispering Tree, David. If you’re up for it, head down to the Silverdale store. They still had quite a bit of the Lazy Creek on Sunday night. Or call first and ask Stan (the wine manager) to hold some for you if they still have it. Then you can try the Contraste too.

      Reply
  8. Seedboy

    Actually, 9.99.
    North of Ensenada there is a valley with many vineyards and wines. Few of them make it to the US. You probably found the L. A. Cetto. That winery makes a nebbiolo I’ve been wanting to try.

    Reply
    1. lim13 Post author

      Price difference is a bit shocking to me. You’re a little closer to Mexico : ~) and our taxes up here almost always add about an extra buck to the total. And thanks for jogging my memory, Seedboy…it was indeed an L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah…big and delicious. I’m sure I have my tasting notes in my other computer, but currently can’t access the info.

      Reply
        1. dluber

          Interesting observation – you might think we’d get first pick, but I wonder if the wine buyers/managers at at CA GOs figure us locals are willing to pay more for a locally known brand, whereas the Wente name, for example, may not carry any extra weight in Bremerton, WA…

          Reply
            1. lim13 Post author

              Entirely possible, SB. Of course when I first reviewed the wine I had no idea there were two vintages out there. Also…I’m still trying to determine if what I had was actually the 2006. The cork indicated that year, but the label indicated nothing as to vintage. I sent an e-mail to Wente asking about why the vintage year was not shown on the label and what varieties were used in the wine. I’ve received no reply yet.

          1. lim13 Post author

            Not sure about your theory, dl. When I first began in the wine/liquor industry in WA in 1974, Wente wines had already been carried in most retail outlets since the 60′s. In fact one of the best selling white wines in the state for years was (no laughing, please) Wente Bros. Grey Riesling (Chauche Gris). Another one was (again, please contain your laughter) Weibel Green Hungarian from the San Jose area. From the 80′s on though, the Wente wines may have hit the skids. As the CA wine industry quickly grew in the late 70′s and through the 80′s, Wente sales seemed to subside. Competition made things more difficult for the “old regime” I’m sure. So maybe WA state consumers forgot about Wente. I must say that Wente wines almost never come up in conversation about wine among me and my wine-drinking friends and acquaintences. So, on second thought, maybe you have a point. Perhaps someone wants to “re-establish Wente up here. But why do it with a wine that’s half-made in Mexico? A wine region that most Washingtonians likely never consider?

            Reply
            1. Janet Reed

              Or if they do, it’s with a shudder. I recall a Mexican wine served at a small family Mexican restaurant in North Seattle that was one of the vilest things I ever tasted. Pruny and viscous, and those were the good adjectives. Sour and astringent and hot were follow-up adjectives. Not something to make me look out for more Mexican wine, I’m afraid.

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