The Troublemaker by Austin Hope 13 is not your ordinary Red blend. For one, the 13 stands for the thirteenth edition; this is a non-vintage wine. It is a blend of grapes from three different vintages.Hope Family Wines has been in Paso Robles inside the Central Coast AVA of California, making wine for more than 30 years. They have five labels, including Liberty School and Treana. And for what is the norm for Paso Robles winemakers, they like to do things their own way.The winemaking details for the Troublemaker by Austin Hope 13 will be highly unusual for this price point. It lists on their website for $20, and I found it at the local big-box wine shop for $12.99, this is not an expensive wine.The blend is 48% Syrah, 26% Grenache, 17% Mourvedre, 5% Zinfandel, and 4% Petite Sirah, so it is the ingredients for a GSM blend with some Zinfandel and Petite Sirah added in to spice things up.Most of the fruit was farmed in Paso Robles, with some Arroyo Grande Valley, Monterey, Suisun Valley, and a little (1%) Lodi. So far, this is fairly straightforward for a California Red blend, so here is where things get interesting.The Troublemaker by Austin Hope 13 is a blend of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 vintages. The various vintages are the different varietals of grapes aged in American and French oak barrels from 15 to 27 months.I think that after 30 years in Paso Robles, the Hope Family has some terrific contacts with other vineyards and wineries, so the Troublemaker by Austin Hope 13 portends to be a fascinating wine.I am a wine nerd; I am always trying to figure out who actually made the Trader Joe's wines, checking out trademark websites and such. With the 13, I want to know which grape was aged for 27 months and where it came from, and what wine was its original purpose?A Red blend in this price category is made to fit their price tag. The Troublemaker by Austin Hope 13 seems to be, at least in part, made from wine leftover from more expensive bottles. Austin Hope does not actually say that is the case, but a great deal of time and effort was expended to find these grapes from the various vineyards.The Troublemaker by Austin Hope 13 is a very deliberately constructed Red blend. Not that there is not thought and preparation behind all red blends. But, Austin Hope seems to have taken it to the next level. The alcohol content is 14.5%.Troublemaker by Austin Hope 13 Tasting NotesThe color is seriously purple; it is dark and deep. The nose smells expensive. You can tell the grapes spent time in oak. There is blackberry, licorice, black coffee, black pepper, toffee, vanilla, blueberry, spice, cherry, and plum.The Troublemaker by Austin Hope 13 is in no way flavor challenged. It has a rounded, silky mouthfeel and enough going on in the glass to keep you busy for a while.It tastes blackberry, rich chocolate (more milk chocolate than dark chocolate), ripe blueberry, baking spice, and black pepper. The mid-palate adds ripe raspberry, a salty sensation, cranberry, and a little cola.This is a very balanced Red blend, considering how bold the flavors are. The flavors flow into each other, giving this blend excellent length. The tannins are sweet, and the acidity allows the taste and textures to unfold but otherwise stay in their place.The SummaryThe Troublemaker by Austin Hope 13 tastes expensive.All the oak barrel aging brings elements to this wine that are not typically present in value-priced Red blends.This is a big Red blend that is well controlled. The winemaker and blenders did an excellent job.
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