The Stark Raving Red is a non vintage blend of 34% Tannat, 28% Zinfandel, 18% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Sirah and 6% Other (why do they just say “other,” it’s not a field blend, they know what grapes they purchased) sourced from 80% Central Coast AVA and 20% Lodi AVA (which is inside the Central Coast AVA). The wine is produced by Rosenblum Cellars and should retail for under ten bucks, I found it for $8.99. Tannat is a grape normally found in Southwest France and used primarily as a blending grape. It is a big, bold, tannic grape that is added to wines to give them some backbone. It is probably used here, because Tannat grapes are far more inexpensive to buy than Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, but that is perfectly fine with me, because now we have a wine that is not the usual blend. Here we have something that is going to be a little different, which is very cool for an under $10 wine. 10% of the wine was aged in French oak barrels, another 10% was aged in American oak barrels and the rest aged in stainless steel vats for 5 months. The alcohol content is 13.9%.
The color is Smuckers raspberry jam red. The nose is subtle, caramel, plum, summer flowers, french vanilla and faint mocha coffee. The wine is a little more subdued than I expected a Tannat/Zinfandel wine to be, but there are strong jammy flavors with a very firm structure. It starts with cherry and blackberry jam, a little Dr. Pepper, some Snickers chocolate and tart cranberry. The mid palate brings the very firm tannins, you can really sense them, they are large and in charge, but they do not bite. Along, with soft plum and a taste of oak spice. The firm tannins run thru out the body of the wine and help the finish linger for longer than a ten buck wine finish should.
I was expecting an over-the-top, large wine from the Stark Raving Red and what I got is a juicy red blend, with good balance and solid, firm structure. Now, I like over-the-top wines, especially in this price range, why hold back, but balance and structure in a backyard BBQ wine is an unexpected and welcome surprise. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not balanced and structured like a Pinot Noir from Burgundy, it is not that hardcore, but for a non vintage, oddball blend it is a very nice effort.