The Stick Figure Red Blend 2016 is a Trader Joe’s $8.99 exclusive sourced from a selection of cool climate and warm weather vineyards in the Central Coast AVA of California. As per usual, Trader Joe’s does not offer technical information for the Stick Figure Red, so let’s see what we can figure out on our own. Trader Joe features a Pinot Noir in November to pair with turkey and according to the Fearless Flyer, this blend is intended to pair with baked ham. It is a fruit-forward, generously oaked (their description), that is moderately dry. This is the 2016 vintage which is a fair bit of bottle age (and oak barrel age, too?) for an $8.99 wine. Generally speaking a wine with plenty of oak and a fairly long aging period is made differently than your typical $8 to $10 red wines. Most sub-ten buck wines are made to come together quickly, they do do not need much aging by design, the Stick Figure Red does not seem to follow this profile. The packaging is excellent, the bottle has some weight to it and the label features drawings of the various types of grapevine pruning. Nothing about this bottle says cheap and inexpensive. We do not learn which grapes are in the blend and since the Central Coast does well with almost all of the popular grapes, guess will be nothing more than a guess. Though the Fearless Flyer write-up suggests Bordeaux grapes, Cab Sauv, Merlot, Petite Verdot, with maybe Petit Sirah and Zinfandel. One of the great things about value-priced Red blends is the winemaker can accentuate the positive with the grapes, the blend can offer greater rewards than the individual grapes could on their own. The alcohol content is 14.5%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is dark, barely see-thru, cranberry red with black highlights. The nose is cherry, toasty oak vanilla, and spice (I would say this Red same some sort of extended oak conditioning), blackberry, molasses, licorice, light smoke, and baking spice. This is a medium to full-bodied wine, with bold flavors and a smooth mouth-feel. It tastes of black cherry, toasted vanilla, dark chocolate, black pepper, and ripe plum. The mid-palate is strong, there is blueberry, tart cranberry, exotic, slightly sharp spice, orange zest, and raspberry jam. The tannins are sweet and do not bite and the acidity allows the flavors to unfold. The finish starts off strong, fades before too long, but never completely fades away.
- There is nothing about the Stick Figure Red Blend 2016 that says sub-$10 wine, from the packaging to what is in the bottle all hit higher than the $8.99 price tag.
- Trader Joe’s is positioning the Red to pair with a baked ham dinner and, yes, it can pair well, but I think this is more of any after the feast wine. More of a sit by the fire with family and friends Red wine, maybe talk about old times or watch the game. A nice, big, soothing Red blend to kick back and relax with.