The Blackburn & James Paso Robles Red Blend, a Trader Joe’s $6.99 exclusive, is a blend of 45% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Sangiovese sourced from vineyards in Paso Robles, California. The blend is mostly aged in used oak barrels, with 5% of the wine aged in new French and American oak. The wine is named for the Blackburn brothers who along with Drury James founded Paso Robles in 1873. The label says, “Our Cellars” is the makers of this wine, they are also listed as the producers of the Trader Joe’s favorite, “Lost Sonnet Napa Meritage”. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a bright and shiny strawberry Smuckers jelly red. The nose is sweet strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and chocolate mint Girl Scout cookies. A good full flavored wine, a combination of smooth and tart fruit flavors. Blackberry and dark chocolate starts things off, tart cherry and vanilla follow, the mid palate brings sweet blueberry and spice drops candy. The tannins are firm, but the strong fruit flavors take the edge off the tannins bite. The finish is fairly light, but it does persist for quite some time.
The Blackburn & James, not Bartles & James, is a very pleasing and solidly constructed everyday wine, tons of rich, warm flavors, easy to drink in the best sense of the word. Grapes sourced from a single, well thought of AVA and priced at an extremely reasonable 7 bucks, this blend is a real bargain. Pair it with burgers and pizza, but it drinks very well on its own.